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Cbc Knickerbocker press 




Entered at Stationers' Hall, London 

Ube ftnicherbocfeer prcac, "Hew l&orfc 


COLLEGE stories manifestly are written 
with a twofold object. The essential 
motive is esoteric : to embody in literary 
form for the alumnae of a particular insti- 
tution memories and impressions of their 
college days. The secondary purpose is 
to endeavor to present before the public 
a truthful picture of the life in such a 

To graduates of colleges for women, a 
series of sketches which aims to delineate 
their academic years needs no prefatory 
word. To those, however, who are un- 
acquainted with the peculiar features of 
collegiate life under the dormitory system, 
an introductory statement may not be 



iv Preface 

amiss. Inasmuch as the important events 
of the college career are of an intellectual 
nature, stories treating with true perspec- 
tive of that formative period must deal 
with character rather than with incident. 
Even as character studies, the scope of 
interest is strictly limited to individuals of 
the same sex and approximately the same 
age, and possessing broadly speaking 
similar mental tastes and moral standards. 
Furthermore, the members of this roughly 
homogeneous democracy are deprived of 
a certain artistic variety by being sepa- 
rated from the often picturesque back- 
ground of family relations. 

In the case of Vassar Studies it is per- 
missible to say that this representation of 
Vassar is necessarily incomplete and in- 
adequate. " Virgil is a thousand books 
to a thousand persons." Nevertheless it 
is felt that there is a present call for some 
such portrayal in fiction of our first col- 
lege for women. The collection of studies 

Preface v 

here offered has been planned to repro- 
duce, by means of emphasizing in each 
paper a characteristic element or quality 
of student life, a faithful impression of 
the spirit and the personality of modern 

J. A. S. 

May i, 1899. 



















VASSAR LAKE . . . . . 52 


Reproduced by permission from '96 Vassarion. 


Music HALL 130 

THE GYMNASIUM ..... 160 


ROCKEFELLER HALL . . . . .210 






WHEN petted Alice left home for college, 
rejecting escort in token of welcome inde- 
pendence, she started gayly off alone with 
her mind in a state of enthusiastic recep- 
tivity. She had reached that point of life 
where the craving for novelty and variety 
suddenly leaps into prominence. At this 
stage some young people plunge with a 
marvellous disregard for other interests 
into the pursuit of " fun," which is only 
another name for excitement ; others dis- 
covering ambition fling themselves upon 
endeavor in a new-born struggle toward 
achievement ; still others fall to dreaming. 

2 Vassar Studies 

Alice had fallen to dreaming. In spite of 
her seventeen years, she was a child in 
every respect ignorant of the world, of 
human nature, of herself. Books she did 
know, as far as reading of them goes, and 
her head was stuffed full of disconnected 
bits of that cheaply gained variety of 
knowledge. Since the age of ten, she 
had been wondering why she never saw 
any beautiful people like those described 
in stories, and why nothing interesting 
ever happened to her. At the prospect 
of college, her dreams rapidly acquired 
vividness. She was tired of existing in a 
placid village, where the chief events were 
ordinary little human catastrophes of birth, 
marriage, and death, varied only by the 
humdrum griefs and joys of average peo- 
ple. Basing her expectations upon her 
desires, assisted by the glowing accounts 
of freshmen friends at Harvard, Yale, and 
Princeton, she beheld opening before her 
in the idea of college a magnificent vista 
of limitless possibilities. Thus, alertly 
ready to scrape up every tiny crumb of a 
sensation within reach, Alice set out on 

In Search of Experience 3 

her way to a woman's college in search of 

The first suggestion of adventure met 
her squarely on the threshold of the new 
life. After a long day's journey, having 
been deposited by the train an hour late 
at a small station on the other side of the 
river from the college town, she was told 
that the ferry had stopped running for the 
night. The only feasible course for her 
and the two other passengers strangers 
to her was to engage a fisherman to row 
them across. With a delightful feeling of 
mental exhilaration overcoming physical 
weariness, Alice stood on the dock in the 
inky isolation of the night, watching the 
lights of the city opposite twinkle across 
the broadly flowing darkness of the river. 
When she was in the boat rocking under 
long steady strokes, with the water black 
beneath and around, with the great piers 
of the bridge rising shadowy above her, 
with the silent outlines of her companions 
barely visible, she gave a joyful little 
wriggle in her seat. This was an advent- 
ure an adventure at last ! 

4 Vassar Studies 

Although the fisherman did not turn 
out to be a cut-throat, 'nor her fellow pas- 
sengers disguised bandits, nevertheless 
they might have been such unconventional 
members of society, and Alice fairly shiv- 
ered with relief when she felt herself 
mounting the rickety wharf steps on the 
other side. Engaging a cabman, who 
looked capable of being in league with 
highwaymen, she contrived to become 
blissfully " scared " during the drive to the 
college, while the cab rattled over cobble- 
stones between lines of illuminated shops, 
swung around corners, and rolled along 
dark roads, with here and there a glim- 
mering window in the dusky bulk of a 
dwelling, or a solitary gas-jet flaring lonely 
in a circle of shadows. At last, a gloomy 
hedge stretching endlessly came in sight 
beside a street sombre under trees. Be- 
hind the hedge, rose against the sky out- 
lines of evergreens softly pyramidal. Soon 
several houses clustered cosily with lighted 
windows drew her attention to calcula- 
tions of size, wondering if this was the 
college, and hoping that it might prove to 

In Search of Experience 5 

be larger with more possibilities. Then 
grating over car-tracks her conveyance 
rumbled under an archway, and behold ! 
at the end of an avenue bordered with 
mountain ranges of tall evergreens, the 
mass of a great building spread out, 
twinkling many eyes under the stars. 

Through the pleasant days that fol- 
lowed, Alice moved serenely open-eyed, 
having thrust behind her the idea of 
monotony and fixed her mind in anticipa- 
tion of variety. Some philosophers say 
that in the conduct of life attitude is all- 
important. Others assert that each man 
sees in this world that for which he is 
looking. However that may be, it is 
certain that the dreamy home-Alice had 
changed into a wide-awake college-Alice, 
entering with untiring zest of enjoyment 
into every detail of the new mode of 

One October morning a classmate, who 
roomed near her, spied her standing at a 
window where her scarlet dressing gown 
made a dash of color in the gray light of 
the long corridor. At the touch of a hand 

6 Vassar Studies 

on her shoulder, Alice turned a radiant 

" Is n't this a splendid wind to bring the 
chestnuts down ! " she exclaimed, " and the 
maple leaves are different every day. The 
cosmos is all budded, and I found fringed 
gentians last week, and there is going to 
be a reception to-night. And Lake Mo- 
honk to-morrow ! Isn't it mysterious to 
have an ' Unknown Friend' always doing 
lovely things for the students ? This is 
the most exciting place ! " 

"Think so, little one?" The tone 
spoke of amused benevolence. 

Alice glanced up into the kindly eyes. 
She liked this tall young woman who was 
so much older than the rest of the girls, 
as well as so much more sensible and sym- 
pathetic. Some instinct told her vaguely 
of beauty of character springing from 
depths of experience. She had never 
heard of the childhood spent among 
mountain people, of the invalid mother, 
the shiftless father, the struggle for educa- 
tion, the surrender of hopes of college to 
help support the family of a rascally 

In Search of Experience 7 

brother, the hardly won freedom to study 
when youth had passed. 

" How old are you, child ? " 

" Almost eighteen." 

" I 'm 'most a thousand. So you find 
a great wear and tear of emotions in this 

" Emotions ? Oh, no, I have n't 
reached that yet ! But everything is so 
interesting. The old girls say that every 
Friday and Saturday evening there will be 
a concert or a lecture or a play. Every 
Sunday we have a different minister, and 
breakfast is half an hour later than usual, 
and we have plum bread, and dinner at 
one instead of at six. And other days the 
recitations are exciting when you don't 
know your lesson and are afraid the 
teacher will call upon you. Of course I 
love to watch the girls in chapel, and it is 
such fun to rush up to the dining-room 
just when the maid is shutting the door 
for the silent grace, and then you have to 
bow when you go in. There is always 
something to think about what you will 
study now, or where you will go for exer- 

8 Vassar Studies 

cise, or what you will wear to dinner, or 
what they are going to have for luncheon, 
and Oh, is n't it awful when the maids 
bring in those yellow pudding dishes at des- 
sert instead of something good ! And the 
sophomores tell us that it is simply terri- 
ble the question whether you can get hold 
of the reference books in time. They say 
that examination week gives you just one 
thrill after another. And besides all that, 
you know, we always have the weather." 

The other seemed to be smiling though 
her features remained in repose. " Yes," 
she said slowly as if to herself, " we always 
have the weather." 

Hereupon the gong began to whir, and 
Alice jumped. Her eyes sparkled. 
" Maybe I shall be late to breakfast ! 
Is n't it exciting ! " 

A day or so later, the older girl found 
Alice wringing out an assortment of 
dripping garments. 

" Does n't the laundry work suit you ? " 

" I fell into the lake," said Alice, and 
then looked delighted to hear the excla- 
mation of amazement. " Indeed I did," 

In Search of Experience 9 

she explained ; " I slipped in stepping from 
the boat to the dock. I caught hold of 
the platform and hung on until I thought 
my arms were breaking. Did you ever 
feel that way ? It is very interesting. I 
suppose people have a somewhat similar 
experience when they are strung up by 
their thumbs." 

" How did you get out ? " 

" I expected to drown," calmly ; "no 
one was in sight, and I began to think 
about the flood, and the tidal wave at 
Lisbon, and the Egyptians swallowed up 
in the Red Sea. I gained a great deal of 
sympathy with them." 

" Mercy ! child, how did you get out ? " 

Alice's face was solemn with enjoyment 
of this important adventure. " All at 
once I remembered the little bugs and 
slimy things which the biology class keeps 
in the mud at the bottom, and so I just 
climbed out. It was n't very deep." 

Her companion gave a sudden chuckle, 
and then grew serious. " I am going to 
the doctor for medicine for you. Such a 
chill is dangerous." 

io Vassar Studies 

" Thank you," responded the girl, adding 
in a wistful voice, " I have never been ill, 
and I am wondering how it feels." 

The messenger stopped on her way out 
of the room. " Want to try it ? " 

Alice hesitated a moment ; then with a 
twinkle, " Perhaps another time will do 
as well." 

On the following Saturday, Alice played 
in the tennis tournament for the champion- 
ship of the college. A blue sky shone 
pale above peaked evergreens. Groups 
of girls beside bicycles, on the grass, or 
cuddling under golf capes on settees 
watched the game with eyes and cheeks 
glowing from the snap of autumn in the 
air. Poised alert, Alice exerted herself to 
win, longing for the sensation of victory. 
Defeat coming instead, however, was wel- 
comed after the first blankness had 
softened. Failure was much more broad- 
ening to sympathies than success ; and 
she had often pondered over Napoleon's 
emotions after the battle of Waterloo. 

At the end of the first month of college 
life, certain small white notes unstamped 

In Search of Experience 1 1 

appeared in the mail on the day after a 
written test. That night Alice's neighbor 
heard her sobbing when she should have 
been asleep. Surmising the cause from 
her knowledge of girl-nature, she tapped 
on the door with the wish to comfort. 
After a silence she was admitted, and 
found the child apparently absorbed in 
study by the drop-light with a green shade 
over her eyes. 

" Any new experiences to-day, Alice ? " 

Lifting her head quickly, " Why, I 
never thought of it in that way, but it is, 
isn't it?" 

" I reckon." 

Alice had pushed back the green shade. 
" There was Nebuchadnezzar," she mur- 
mured reflectively. Her tall neighbor was 
watching her with the contented gaze of a 
physician whose treatment is working well. 

" And there was Lucifer, too," after a pe- 
riod of meditation, " ' from morn to noon, 
from noon to dewy eve,' you remember? " 

" I never heard that exact account," 
cheerfully, "but it does not matter." 

"Well, it might have been somebody 

12 Vassar Studies 

else. I get mixed up occasionally because 
I know so much. That was the trouble 
with my Latin. Morn to dewy eve. Oh, 
yes, and there was Eve herself, and Adam 
too. They all endured disgrace." Her 
eyes fell to the little white note at her el- 
bow. " I must get a tutor in Latin," she 
explained, adding with a sigh that still 
quivered from earlier sobs, " Some varie- 
ties of experience are expensive." 

Perhaps the most important event of 
the winter was a discovery which Alice 
made while listening to a lecture on life in 
New York tenements. Deeply moved 
for it is needless to say that Alice was an im- 
pressionable girl and swayed out of her- 
self as the recital gained in tragic emphasis, 
she was suddenly conscious of an actual 
physical pain at her heart. Diverted from 
grief, she hurried to report this latest gain 
in the acquisition of knowledge. " I have 
learned the meaning of heartache," she 
announced, somewhat breathless from her 
run down the corridor. 

Her friend had paused at the sound of 
the flying footsteps. Looking into the 

In Search of Experience 13 

glowing face, " Have you, dear?" with a 
new note of gentleness in her voice. 

Alice, walking beside her, broke into a 
little skip. " It 's an awfully interesting 
feeling. It was a pang and then a con- 
tracted sensation quick in coming, but 
it stays quite a while." 

" Yes," echoed her companion absently, 
" it stays quite a while." 

The philosopher fell to pondering. 
"There was Niobe." A silence. "And 
there was Rachel mourning for her child- 


Alice opened startled eyes. " I did not 
mean to be flippant," she said ; " I was 
thinking," she spoke softly, " of the heart- 

The woman had turned sharply away. 

" I wonder," thought the child, " if she 
ever had the heartache." 

In a day or two Alice had forgotten the 
reproof in a new emotion. She came 
walking slowly into her neighbor's room 
in a drooping way that called forth an 
instant " What 's up now ? " 

14 Vassar Studies 

Alice seemed to melt into a chair. 
" Did you ever feel uncomfortable?" 

" Occasionally." 

" Prickly all over, and as if you did not 
want to stay in one place ? " she inquired, 
rising to move uneasily from window to 

" Go on." 

" I 've just had an essay interview." 

" Oh, I see ! " 

" No, you don't. I beg your pardon, 
but you don't. The criticism was all 
right, but The critic was telling how 
she is mistaken for a freshman every year, 
and she said, ' It seems very strange, con- 
sidering my gray hair.' I popped out, 
* Why, I should think so ! ' and then I 
remembered and exclaimed, ' Oh, no ! I 
mean I should n't think so.' " 

"Too bad!" 

"That is n't all. You know that girl 
who was here last week visiting her ? I 
was sure that it was her sister, and so 
I began to say a whole string of nice 
things about how much prettier her sister 
was in reality than in her photograph." 

In Search of Experience 15 


" It was n't her sister." 

" Gracious ! " 

Alice looked gratified. " Your sympa- 
thy is soothing to me yes, soothing is the 
word but I wish that you would say 
something to distract my mind. I want to 
get away from my thoughts. Why-e-e ! " 
with a quick brightening of manner, " I 
am beginning to have sympathy with 
people who are tired of themselves or 
troubled by remorse." 

Field Day in the spring found Alice's 
name entered for the long dash. The 
air was sunny and soft, yet of a tonic 
freshness. The evergreens, sweeping in 
a generous curve around the gardens, 
formed an effective background for the 
great grassy Circle. The spectators, in 
bright shirt-waists and sailor hats gay 
with class colors, were ranged along the 
rope which protected the race-course. 
Girls in dark blue gymnasium suits had 
been jumping and vaulting and throwing 
the basket-ball ; they were now resting on 
mattresses stretched under the elm tree 

1 6 Vassar Studies 

in the centre of the lawn, while attentive 
non-participants passed around dippers of 
oatmeal water. 

Alice and her two competitors were far 
away at the beginning of the course across 
the grass plat. They poised for the start 
with heads low and hands touching the 
ground. The starter beside them stood 
ready with her pistol aloft pointing sky- 
ward. Bang ! Alice ran steadily, holding in, 
although one rival had passed her, sprint- 
ing rapidly, with elbows out and shoulders 
back. Faintly she heard cheering shouts, 
and caught glimpses of waving banners 
and fluttering ribbons, while through 
her head hummed persistently a line 
of yesterday's Greek lesson, " And Hec- 
tor ran, plying swift knees, around Troy." 

Ah, the home stretch ! Now for it ! 
Faster and faster she plied swift knees. 
The leader sped on, widening the space 
between. Alice bent every energy. In- 
exorably the distance grew broader. 
Alice was interested in the weakness of 
her knees. Her feet kept trotting along, 
one and then the other, and yet they did 

In Search of Experience 17 

not go any faster. The limp feeling was 
remarkably queer. The leader was cross- 
ing the line. Panting slowly after her, 
Alice fell into somebody's arms. " You 
did splendidly ! " She felt a sponge on 
her forehead and a lemon thrust to her 
lips. " Oh," she gasped, " 1 feel more 
sympathy with Hector ! " 

However strange it may appear in view 
of this rapid succession of experiences 
crowded into one short year, Alice felt 
that something was lacking in her college 
life. As the summer vacation drew nearer, 
this defect, vaguely bothersome at first, 
began to become a more and more clearly 
defined trouble. How could she explain 
to the boys and girls at home the fascina- 
tions of a woman's college ? How was 
she going to paint the picture with colors 
that would glow beneath the contempla- 
tion of the average mind ? It was possi- 
ble that the intellectual events, which had 
rendered vividly stimulative the daily 
routine of sleep-eat-study-recite-exercise, 
might not work up effectively in spectacular 
description. Her various adventures, so 

1 8 Vassar Studies 

promising in the opening stages, flattened 
out wofully in retrospect. On her arrival 
at college she had crossed the river in a 
rowboat after dark ; she had fallen into 
the lake ; she had been defeated in the 
tennis tournament ; she had been in- 
formed that her knowledge of Latin was 
deficient ; she had listened with pain to 
accounts of poverty in tenement districts ; 
she had committed conversational errors ; 
she had taken part in the great Field 
Day races. The list ended blankly. She 
had not been robbed ; she had not been 
drowned ; she had not been driven to de- 
spair ; she had not been set adrift in dis- 
grace ; she had not pined away of a 
broken heart ; she had not died of re- 
morse ; she had not even sprained an 
ankle. And here it was almost June, and 
she would go home without a word to 
say when the boys told of deadly cane- 
rushes, defenceless hazings, blood-curdling 
initiation ceremonies, entertaining mid- 
night sallies, expulsions, costly boat-races, 
and disastrous football games. Alice was 
rapidly becoming melancholy. 

In Search of Experience 19 

At this dark period, she awoke one day 
to find a suspicion of dawn breaking over 
her great trouble. It was the occasion of 
the annual event known as the " Senior 

Every year the senior class is given a 
ten days' vacation just before Commence- 
ment. After their final examination, they 
are accustomed to celebrate the beginning 
of the recess by spending the afternoon 
on the river, coming back after dark, 
marching valiantly down the avenue to 
the Main Building, struggling to shout 
and sing joyously, while the underclass- 
men come running to the window to 
watch them. Later in the evening the 
class gathers for the "Howl" a rollick- 
ing supper with good things to eat, and 
toasts and speeches and songs and cheering 
ad infinitum, though at times here and 
there one falls into a reverie with the cor- 
ners of her mouth drooping, and the voices 
are always somewhat husky perhaps 
from excessive indulgence in singing while 
on the river. When this banquet is in pro- 
gress, it is a custom for the sophomores 

20 Vassar Studies 

to assemble under the windows to sere- 
nade the feasters. Occasionally juniors 
and freshmen combine to create inter- 
ruptions. There is a legend that once 
upon a time a class of enterprising jun- 
iors, tempted by echoing of hilarious rev- 
els from behind the closed firewall doors 
of the third-floor corridor, propped lad- 
ders to a window, and climbed up and 
in, to be met by splashes of water and 
shrieks. Then ensued a general scramble, 
resulting finally in an accident to some 
one falling on the stairs. Since that sea- 
son the juniors had been taught by those 
in authority a certain lothness to attempt 
participation in the " Senior Howl." 

Alice, however, who was only a fresh- 
man, had never heard of any express pro- 
hibitions concerning the serenade. Her 
class, moreover, was of a peculiarly enter- 
prising character prone to espouse re- 
form or revolution, as its later history 
proved. It was a young class very 
young with youthful bearing and spirit. 

On the evening of this particular 
" Howl," the freshmen, after watching the 

In Search of Experience 21 

seniors come straggling back to college 
in the soft darkness, began to gather in 
whispering knots here and there, in cor- 
ners of the library and recesses of the 
corridors, waylaying groups of classmates 
on the walks leading from Hall to Hall, 
hallooing gently over " Engaged " signs, 
and withal melting away mysteriously at 
the approach of any curious sophomore. 

As for the sophomores, they too held 
secret councils, suspicious of these inno- 
cently inquisitive freshmen with their 
nai've questions concerning the hour for 
the serenade. The freshmen loved music, 
and they hoped to be able to steal a few 
hours from books in order to enjoy the 
singing. But the sophomores declined to 
tell their plans, and the freshmen lingered, 
ingenuously purposeless, until the sopho- 
mores began to disappear from corridors 
and reading-room and library, while sounds 
of cheering and clapping drifted down 
more distinctly from the senior pre- 

At nine o'clock, from the outline of a 
crowd massed dimly on the lawn beneath 

22 Vassar Studies 

the windows of the senior corridor, rose 
voices clear and sweet. As the music 
floated upward in the cool night air, the 
noise of revelry above grew fainter until 
it had died away. Sashes were pushed 
up, heads leaned out, and faces gazed 
down, half smiling in the darkness at the 
loyal loving words, half saddened. 

Suddenly an awful clamor arose from 
around a corner of the building a clangor 
of pans pounded with iron spoons, horns 
blowing, bells ringing, combs squeaking, 
drums beating, and girlish lungs sending 
forth shouting and squealing. 

It was the freshmen ! 

And the serenade was heard no more. 

After a moment of dismayed delibera- 
tion, the sophomores formed a line of bat- 
tle, and made a dash for the band of 
enemies who had halted in triumph a few 
rods away. And then the conflict pans 
snatched from clinging hands, bells 
grasped voiceless, combs knocked to the 
ground, while mouths tooted at horns 
dragged this way and that. And amid 
breathless silences, involuntary gasps of, 

In Search of Experience 23 

" I beg pardon ! " " Oh, did I hurt you ?" 
and, " Excuse me, please." 

Fifteen minutes later Alice burst in upon 
her neighbor, who had been spending the 
eventful evening in quietly studying at 
her shabby desk. Glancing up at the 
flushed face and dilated eyes of her me- 
teoric visitor, she noticed the gown rent 
as if by brambles, the scratched shoes, and 
loosened hair. " Hey ! little one, take 
out the cork." 

Alice bubbled over. " It was a battle ! 
A real adventure ! The freshmen fled ! 
The boys shall not crow any longer over 
the spiciness of risks. Peppery that is 
what it is here when the girls are roused. 
Talk of excitement ! " 

" Talk yourself, Alice," was slipped in 
slyly between breaths. 

u I fled, pursued by avenging sopho- 
mores six of them, maybe. Or maybe, 
five. Did you ever hear of Orestes chased 
by the Furies? That is the way I felt. 
We had spoiled their serenade, you know. 
Angry ? Well there was the wrath of 
Achilles, and this was the wrath of sopho- 

24 Vassar Studies 

mores. Won't it be fun if they never 
forgive us ! One of them snatched the 
fudge-pan which you lent me. I scudded 
across the lawn toward the Chemical Labo- 
ratory, and plunged into the evergreen 
walk. It was like Dred escaping into the 
great Dismal Swamp. They brandished 
things as they came tearing after me. 
They could not have known that the 
charivari was my idea, but they might 
have forced some prisoner to confess. I 
shot along the path by the Brook, behind 
the gas-house. The trees were all ghosts, 
and the ashes crunched and crackled. I 
spied the enemy in the shadows. I went 
scampering by the Observatory out across 
the tennis courts, and hid under an ever- 
green. They hovered around, frightened 
actually, yes, they were afraid of me. 
Dangerous when at bay, naturally. They 
were plotting. Macbeth's foes plotted, 
you remember. They said I did not 
hear distinctly, but I have not a doubt 
that they intended to confine me in the 
catacombs under the Main. Raleigh was 
shut up in the Tower. But I slid out of 

In Search of Experience 25 

covert. All the dry twigs rattled and 
snapped. I sped away behind the hedge, 
like the Israelites fleeing to a city of 
refuge. Just inside the door, bump ! 
there was Prexie ! Daniel in the lions' 
den ! Daniel escaped, you know, and so 
did I. I said ' Good-morning,' and he 
said nothing. He looked sort of funny 
eyes twinkled. I don't care. Now I 
have an adventure to describe. Oh, but 
those sophomores were angry ! I shall 
tell the boys- 
Just here two other freshmen hurrying 
past the open door stopped with a jerk at 
sight of Alice. " Oh, Alice, we 've had 
such a time chasing a sophomore ! We 
could have caught her if we had not been 
afraid of what she might do." 

" Oh, girls ! " and Alice broke into an- 
other round-eyed, gasping narration of her 
evening's adventures. As she proceeded, 
one of her listeners gave a little shriek, 
and collapsed on the sofa. 

" Yes, was n't it awful ! " exclaimed the 
heroine, delighted at the effect. 
" It is n't that." 

26 Vassar Studies 

The other girl had sunk into a chair 
with her face in her hands. " Oh, Alice ! " 

" What is it? " A miserable misgiving 
fluttered about her heart. 

" That sophomore we were chasing " 

"Yes?" breathlessly. 

" It was you ! " 

" Oh ! " said Alice. 

They looked at each other. " Perhaps 
we'd better keep it quiet." 

" Perhaps we 'd better," assented meek 

" There was Falstaff," muttered the 
kindly neighbor as she meditatively sharp- 
ened a pencil, but Alice was not listening. 
Her head was drooping when she said 

" What are you going to tell the boys, 

" What am I going to tell the boys ? " 
she repeated hopelessly with eyes on the 
floor. A pause and a deep-drawn sigh. 
Then the quick glimmer of a delightful 
idea " I shall tell them," the words came 
out with a vicious snap, " ' Get thee to a 
nunnery !' ' 



HER first week at college had been a 
series of humiliations to Lois Exeter. On 
her arrival late Friday evening after her 
long trip across the continent, while with 
a firm grasp of bag and umbrella she 
waited at the door of the Lady Principal's 
office, gazing up and down the vista of 
dimly lighted corridor, she spied two girls 
appearing from the distance. As they 
approached, her keen hearing caught, 
" There is another poor freshman." She 
was still pondering in some amaze the 
idea that she now belonged to a class 
open to condescension, when from the 
door beside her two women emerged in a 
cheerful flutter of good-night words. One 
held out both hands cordially : " This is 

2$ Vassar Studies 

Miss Exeter, is it not ? Is n't she a brave 
girl to come all the way from California 
alone ?" The other beamed : " I received 
a very nice letter from Miss Exeter last 
summer. Somehow I did not expect to 
see such a little thing." 

As Lois sank to sleep that night, she 
was sensible of confused impressions that, 
although home was depressingly far away, 
the people here were charmingly friendly ; 
that she was extremely tired and the bed 
was delightfully soft ; that the college 
was unexpectedly large and that she was 
remarkably small. 

The following day Lois felt a realiza- 
tion of her own insignificance burning 
slowly into consciousness. During the 
endless waiting in line and the business-like 
interviews with officials, she experienced 
an obliteration of personal background in 
being transformed from an individual into 
a member of an institution. Nobody 
seemed to know or care that at home she 
moved in the best society, that her father 
was the wealthiest man in town, and that 
she herself had graduated at the head of 

The History of an Ambition 29 

her high-school class. When she entered 
the tiny tower room, which had fallen to 
her in the democratic allotment, she sat 
down in the hard rocking-chair, and 
frowned severely for at least ten minutes, 
as she recalled her white-and-gold room 
at home, the deference of her old school- 
mates, and the pleasant flattery of her 
former teachers. 

By the end of the second week Lois's 
self-esteem (in which she was by no means 
lacking) had been pricked into a painfully 
sensitive condition. When the students 
made up their groups for the dining-room, 
as no one had given her any special invi- 
tation, she found herself assigned to a 
table of miscellaneous freshmen, who pre- 
sumably had been too shy, or too indiffer- 
ent, or too unattractive, to find comrades 
readily among strangers. She had been 
repeatedly snubbed by upper classmen, 
not intentionally but carelessly ; during 
the busy opening days, new faces, unless 
striking, slip easily from memory, and 
Lois, in spite of her small and fair pretti- 
ness, was not physically remarkable among 

30 Vassar Studies 

five hundred comely girls. She had com- 
mitted a number of mortifying blunders, 
and suffered pangs out of all proportion 
as freshmen sometimes do. Even in 
the class-room she failed to achieve dis- 
tinction ; instead of that she quickly joined 
the majority in the frequency of confess- 
ing, '' I don't know." 

What stung her most sharply, how- 
ever, had been an incident occurring one 
afternoon when she was sauntering 
through the Pines, impatiently counting 
the minutes of the hour's exercise. Of 
two seniors passing together, one had 
paused to speak to her in kindly fashion. 
Lois's heart bounded ; she was beginning 
to be known. As she was stepping on 
more lightly through the mingled shadow 
and sunshine of the path strewn with 
brown pine needles, she heard, wafted 
toward her on the breeze, " Do you know 
that little thing?" 

" Oh, no, but I have met so many fresh- 
men that my head is a jumble of names 
and faces. I have made a rule to bow to 
every new girl who glances at me out of 

The History of an Ambition 31 

the corner of her eye. And this one 
looked so small and lonely." 

Ever since the days when she used to 
shake her flaxen curls vigorously in an- 
swer to sympathetic, " Does baby feel 
bad ? " Lois had shrunk from pity. Now, 
writhing under the compassionate note in 
the patronizing speech, she felt strength- 
ening within her the desire for pre-emi- 
nence. To take her place above others, 
to be admired, praised, and sought, to be 
acknowledged excellent the best ! At 
home and at school, she had always been 
easily first, and now to be pitied ! 

And she threw back her shoulders, and 
shut her teeth hard. And Lois had a 
resolute chin. 

One evening in October, her vague 
longing for fame the ambition to do, or 
to be, something to win distinction re- 
ceived a crystallizing touch. Having 
slipped into chapel early, she was watch- 
ing the girls come streaming through the 
wide doors and up the aisles. Those who 
passed on to the choir seats at the right 
and left of the great organ, Lois followed 

32 Vassar Studies 

with a gaze half grudging their conspicu- 
ousness. When the president rose to 
lead the exercises, she listened with stifled 
envy at the thought that everybody bowed 
to him, and knew his name. During the 
singing of the hymn, she heard two girls 
beside her whispering together. 

" There do you see that tall dark- 
haired girl in white, third row down ? " 


" She is the president of the Students' 
Association. Greatest honor in the college 
course ! Elected by popular vote, you 
know. It takes an all-round fine girl. Per- 
haps I can arrange to have you meet her. 
She is the most admired girl in college." 

When Lois raised her head after the 
prayer, her eyes, shining with a new idea, 
lingered long upon the tall young woman 
in white, as the students filed out, two by 
two, in orderly array. 

It maybe reasonable to conjecture that 
Miss Lois Exeter, being a remarkably 
clear-sighted young person, took stock 
that very evening of her prospects for se- 
curing the coveted honor. In the first 

The History of an Ambition 33 

place, and of weightiest significance in 
her case, was the determination to suc- 
ceed. Her will was unusually strong ; 
her energies were concentrated, however 
subtly, upon one purpose. In the second 
place, she possessed the ability to fill a 
public office such as that in view. An in- 
tellect above the average, a certain ma- 
turity of judgment, and dignity of manner 
were reinforced by command of language, 
and tact circumspect rather than intui- 
tive. In the third place, Lois had her 
full womanly share of political talent. 

Among the students generally there 
was an unworldly attitude with respect to 
competitive rewards ; there was a tacit 
feeling that some unbecomingness lay in 
striving for self-aggrandizement. Com- 
paratively few entered the lists in compe- 
titions athletic or literary ; in scholarship 
the prizes were openly contemned as nox- 
ious to the spirit of true learning. In 
such a campaign as Lois now began, she 
had the advantage of consciously aiming 
for the mark. Few of her mates looked 
so far ahead as their senior year ; few had 

34 Vassar Studies 

the requisite self-esteem to recognize 
themselves as possible candidates ; almost 
all considered the honor in the light of a 
spontaneous acknowledgment of excel- 

Lois's method during the first two years 
was to make herself known, to impress 
with her ability, and most important of 
all to win popularity. In this she suc- 
ceeded, though not without sacrifices of 
time, inclinations, and minor ambitions. 

A policy of universal sociability forbade 
the formation of special friendships. Lois 
gave up many an opportunity of compan- 
ionship with those congenial to her, for 
the sake of extending her circle of ac- 
quaintances throughout the mass of more 
ordinary students. After once forming a 
connection with any one, she never per- 
mitted a cessation of amicable relations. 
She made it a point to appear always 
sympathetic, helpful, and eager to confer 
favors a state of mind which met enthu- 
siastic appreciation from those who felt 
the isolation of that necessarily self-ab- 
sorbed life. 

The History of an Ambition 35 

The cultivation of popularity, further- 
more, interfered with thoroughness in class 
work. To accomplish well each day's al- 
lotted task demanded the student's best 
energies. It was impossible for Lois to 
do justice to every interest which she had 
assumed in order to prove her ability and 
public spirit. She belonged to a number 
of societies athletic, dramatic, literary, 
social, and charitable ; she never declined 
to serve on committees ; she earnestly 
sought every available office, no matter 
how obscure the honor or burdensome 
the duties. In countless ways her time 
leaked away. Her room became a rendez- 
vous for the socially inclined ; half-hours 
slipped away in fraternal loitering through 
the corridors, and in neighborly chats pro- 
longing business errands ; entire evenings 
vanished during inopportune visits from 
conscienceless idlers. Even her precious 
minutes sacred to concentrated study in 
the library were often stolen from her by 
the whispered consultations of inquiring 

In the spring of her freshman year, 

36 Vassar Studies 

Lois found herself face to face with the 
necessity of making a far-reaching deci- 
sion. It appeared to her that, as she was 
neither phenomenally brilliant nor strik- 
ingly attractive, she must choose between 
alternate not certainties, but possibilities. 
Her hopes of being elected president of 
the Students' Association were built upon 
popularity rather than obvious superiority. 
That popularity not easily won, as in 
some cases could be fostered only 
through the expenditure of time and en- 
ergy. To employ her forces in that way 
might shut her off from another ambition : 
to excel in scholarship throughout the 
college course. 

On a certain evening in March, she was 
hovering on the outskirts of the senior 
corridor, near enough to see the class 
clustering within the parlor at the end of 
the vista. Some one, perched on the 
piano stool, was reading the just-issued 
official list of those seniors who had 
achieved distinction in their college work. 
Lois heard the shouting, clapping, and 
nervous laughter which greeted each 

The History of an Ambition 37 

name ; she saw the ecstatic congratula- 
tions with which the girls fell upon the 
honored students. Sympathetically she 
scanned the subduedly radiant face in the 
centre of each rejoicing group, and almost 
envyingly she noted the generous exulta- 
tion of those who remained undistin- 

Then, walking rapidly to her own room, 
resolutely she scribbled " Engaged " on 
the back of an envelope, and pinned it on 
the outside of her door. Relaxing com- 
fortably into an easy-chair, freed from 
harassing expectation of knocks, she pro- 
ceeded to bend her mind upon a long 
piece of work in mathematics. Soon foot- 
steps in the hall roused peaceful memo- 
ries of the " Engaged " sign ; she must 
have these two hours secure from inter- 
ruption. After a restless pattering, the 
intrusive footsteps withdrew for a few 
minutes only to return more decided. A 
voice floated over the transom : " Lois, 
oh, Lois ! won't you please help me with 
this Latin ? It can't take more than two 

38 Vassar Studies 

Though the " Come" sounded the least 
bit short, Lois had a smile ready when 
some one was wafted in with a flutter of 
curly hair and rose-silk wrapper. The 
two seconds had lengthened to fifteen 
minutes before the caller had finished 
rattling on about the delights of her re- 
cent trip to New York. When at last 
alone, Lois turned again to her problem, 
first closing the transom, as sounds of rev- 
elry from the next room were growing 
more penetrating. 

At the end of half an hour, somebody 
was dancing a double-shuffle against her 
door. Another voice came through the 
keyhole: " Lois, Lois, we Ve brought you 
fudges and molasses candy." A mo- 
ment's irritation gave way to a soothing 
consciousness that this was one of the 
penalties of popularity. Opening her 
door in time to catch a glimpse of a girl 
disappearing into the neighboring alley- 
way, Lois was bending to pick up the 
candies, when some one else with black 
hair wildly loose flew down the stairs, and 
dashed up to her. " Oh, Lois, I 'm going 

The History of an Ambition 39 

crazy ! Those people under my room 
are having a party, and the noise all 
comes up the register. I can't translate a 
single line. Won't you speak to them ? 
You are on the self-government com- 

Lois hesitated imperceptibly. Though 
as a member of that most important com- 
mittee of the Students' Association her 
duty concerned this point, she dreaded 
the antagonizing tendency of a reproof. 
Smothering inclination, however, for 
Lois was a girl of principle, she promised 

The odor of boiling chocolate and mo- 
lasses was permeating the corridor, when 
Lois tapped on her neighbor's door. The 
room seemed full of girls and laughter. 
One was playing a banjo, and another was 
trying a tune on a comb, while the rest ap- 
peared to be all chattering at once. Lois 
was greeted with a chorus of welcome. 

As she found a seat among half a dozen 
girls on the divan, " I heard your fun," 
she began, accenting the verb. 

" Squelched ! " groaned the hostess, 

40 Vassar Studies 

flourishing a big spoon ; " hurry and give 
her something to eat." 

Lois helped herself calmly. " Ladies, 
as a representative of self-government, I 
must protest against this disturbance of 
the vicinity. It is not etiquette to give 
parties on Monday night." 

" Squelch on," muttered the wielder of 
the sticky spoon, while several others 
broke out : 

" Nobody is studying to-night." 

" We are all celebrating senior honors." 

"Talk to the seniors about howling." 

Lois pretended to reflect. " You also 
may have the right to howl, when you 
find your name on the honor list." 

" I don't think that it is a very great 
honor," responded one ; " some of the 
brightest seniors are n't on it." 

" It is a distinction for digs," put in an- 

" Well," Lois felt her way cautiously, 
" it requires ability and industry 

" And a system of judicious reviewing 
and a well-worn ' Engaged ' sign." 

A serious-faced girl beside Lois bent 

The History of an Ambition 4 1 

forward earnestly. " You see, in a way, 
the idea of graduating with honors tempts 
a student to work for marks, and that is 

" Oh, nobody works for marks here," 
exclaimed another, " and we never know 
what they are anyway, unless 

" Oho ! unless the information is ac- 
companied by a polite suggestion con- 
cerning the rates for tutoring." 

Lois spoke : " At any rate, the nature 
of college life is primarily intellectual, and 
the honor students are those who have 
excelled in that sphere. It is fair to sup- 
pose that they possess ability above the 

" Oh, I don't think so ! " burst out sev- 
eral ; and another added, " It is n't such a 
great honor to be one among sixteen or 

The night seemed long to Lois. She 
could not bring herself to resign either 
possibility. A strain of New England 
ancestry, combined with her woman's con- 
scientiousness where higher education is 
concerned, forbade her to slight her work 

42 Vassar Studies 

to any glaring degree, even while her 
stronger desires led her to place first the 
honor carrying with it the greater pre-emi- 
nence. Although her knowledge from 
observation, and her common sense, told 
her that for her to strive for both rewards 
might rob her of vitality for future years, 
she was unable to surrender endeavor. 
She knew that she could cultivate a knack 
of making brilliant recitations upon super- 
ficial preparation ; she let slip the stand- 
ard of thoroughness. It is an interesting 
fact, significant of attitude, that, after that 
evening, visitors rarely found an " En- 
gaged " sign guarding her solitude. 

The progress which Lois had made to- 
ward her goal was fully indicated during 
the course of a discussion among a group 
of her classmates one Sunday morning in 
May of her sophomore year. 

Half a dozen girls, carrying with them 
the luxury of pillows, had strolled out to 
the clover slope behind the Chemical Labo- 
ratory. Under the shade of a parasol, 
one of them was reading aloud, while the 
others, half hidden in the sweet-scented 

The History of an Ambition 43 

depths of red and white clovers, were 
lazily watching soft fleecy clouds float 
above Sunset Hill. Now and then a 
bobolink rose from near the ground, pour- 
ing forth a bubbling stream of music, as 
he winged his joyous way to another bend- 
ing twig. Sometimes a butterfly flitted 
by, or a little breeze, wandering over the 
blossoming field, brought whiffs of sum- 
mer fragrance. 

When the story had come to an end, 
one of the listeners sat up, showing fair 
cheeks flushed pink, and blue eyes drows- 
ily shining. " I think that heroine is very 
much like Lois Exeter," she announced. 

At this, a head of short curls rose from 
the clover. " Why, Grace, Lois is not 
naturally popular." 

" Everybody likes her." 

Another head appeared. " She is al- 
ways doing favors. She helped me all 
through algebra, and at the table she has 
hardly time to eat, because she is so busy 
in passing things." 

"It makes me nervous to have anybody 
so attentive," laughed the second speaker. 

44 Vassar Studies 

" I 'm awfully fond of Lois, but still she 
makes me drink too much milk by keep- 
ing my glass filled constantly." 

" She is as sympathetic as she can be," 
put in the girl who had been reading. " I 
go to see her whenever I am blue." 

" What does she do ? Give you nut- 
cake and salted almonds ? " 

Hereupon Grace interrupted : " You 
know that she is generosity itself about 
everything she has, and she is unselfish 
and courteous and careful of people's feel- 

The curly-haired critic looked wise. 
" The main reason for her popularity is 
the way she has of flattering people." 

" That is unkind," spoke up the cham- 
pion with an angry note. 

A new voice floated up from the green 
depths : " She means that Lois's manner 
gives the impression that she values your 
society, appreciates praise from you, and 
respects your opinions more than those 
of any one else." 

" Well," meditating, " perhaps I did 
mean ah courtesy assisted by brains. 

The History of an Ambition 45 

The only point which I am attempting to 
make is that like most of us poor mortals 
Lois is not naturally popular. She is 
obliging and delightful from principle. 
She is really one of the strongest charac- 
ters in the class, but she was not so to 
speak born popular, like our Margaret 
here, for instance." 

"The question is, Should I, or should 
I not, bow in response?" came from the 
invisible speaker, before she appeared out 
of the clover. She was a fine-looking girl 
with earnest eyes and a sincere manner. 

Under the parasol, the reader, finger- 
ing the leaves of her book, scanned Mar- 
garet reflectively. " I certainly think that 
Margaret is more like the heroine than 
Lois is." 

" Oh, come," in careless expostulation, 
" we talk too much about ourselves in 
this place." 

" Lois says that it is as bad as gossip," 
remarked Grace. 

" Lois has brains," commented the critic, 
trying to smooth her curls as she studied 
Margaret's unruffled part. 

4 6 Vassar Studies 

" She is one of the brightest girls in the 
class," added another. 

" And everybody likes her," persisted 
the champion. 

" Exactly," assented the critic ; " she has 

As the time drew near, in the spring of 
her junior year, when the nominations for 
the presidency of the Students' Associa- 
tion were to be made, Lois's brains were 
keen enough to perceive clearly that, not- 
withstanding her general popularity, it 
occurred to no one that she might be a 
probable candidate. In choosing this 
officer, who was supposed to be as far as 
possible typical of the student body who 
was their deputy in dealing with the 
Faculty and with other colleges who 
represented them before the world of 
curious guests on Founder's Day, the girls 
sought nominees who should combine 
both physical and mental distinction. 

The fact that Lois, though pretty in a 
vivacious way, was too immature-looking 
to be personally impressive to strangers, 
was undoubtedly the reason why she was 

The History of an Ambition 47 

not mentioned in discussions of the com- 
ing campaign. However, she had not 
laid the foundation of success at such ex- 
pense to lose all for lack of a timely sug- 
gestion. Her political genius was called 
peremptorily into play. 

One day, while chatting about the 
election, her champion, Grace, in giving 
the list of desirable candidates, concluded 
with the remark : " But most of the girls 
think that Margaret would be the best. 
She is brilliant and well balanced and dig- 
nified and fine-looking, and everybody 
admires her." 

" Do we know whether she has execu- 
tive power?" demurred Lois, with two 
lines deepening between her eyes ; " she 
has never had anything to say in meetings 
of the Association, and she never served 
on the self-government committee. We 


ought to choose some one who has proved 
her ability, and so avoid the risk of 
untried material." 

Grace looked perplexed. " Everybody 
thinks that Margaret has a great amount 
of executive force." 

48 Vassar Studies 

"It may be merely her reserved man- 
ner," suggested Lois, impatiently remem- 
bering her own record of service on 
various committees of the Association ; 
"we should select candidates from among 
those students who have been prominent 
in work such as will be required of the 
head of self-government." 

Grace pondered. " Why, Lois, you 
have been as prominent as any ! Why, I 
never thought of that before. I do be- 
lieve that you could make a good presi- 
dent, only " 

" Only what ? " 

" Oh, nothing." Then, after a silence : 
" And you are one of the girls who 
deserve some big honor before we grad- 
uate. I always said that you should have 
been on the Miscellany Board. And we 
all thought it such a shame when you lost 
the speakership of T. and M., and the 
election as class secretary. You certainly 
ought to have something in our senior 

Before the day was over, the name of 
Lois Exeter was included in the list of 

The History of an Ambition 49 

possible candidates for the highest honor 
in the college course. General amaze- 
ment at first hearing the idea soon 
merged into a judicial weighing of quali- 
fications and advantages. An attitude of 
mind, somewhat surprising to any one ac- 
quainted only with normal American poli- 
tics, was revealed in the interpretation of 
the fact that Lois had met with defeat in 
several recent elections for petty offices. 
As Grace had said, the opinion seemed to 
be that she merited a recompense for the 

One week before the day set for the 
election, the nominations made by ballot 
resulted in the choice of Margaret and 
Lois. Then ensued a long-drawn sus- 
pense of seven nervous days. Lois was 
aware of being the subject of conversa- 
tion everywhere ; she felt herself open to 
a fire of criticism concerning each event of 
her life at college. She knew that she 
was being pointed out to the freshmen 
whom she had not met, and she could 
almost hear the comments descriptive of 
her, as she walked down the chapel aisle. 

50 Vassar Studies 

What she found hardest to endure smil- 
ingly was the joking of the girls over her 
" chances." It struck her as being in ex- 
tremely poor taste, inasmuch as the 
humor of the chaffing depended wholly 
upon the outcome of the election. A 
particular incident caused her forced 
merriment. One of her protegees came to 
her in bewildered simplicity. " Won't 
you please advise me impartially, Lois ? 
I cannot decide for whom to vote ; I ad- 
mire Margaret so much, and you are such 
a friend of mine." 

After breakfast on the appointed May 
Saturday, a meeting of the Students' 
Association was called for the election of 
officers for the following year. Less than 
a quorum responded. With a selfish lack 
of interest that boded ill for woman suf- 
frage, a goodly number of the outgoing 
senior class did not attend. The juniors 
were present in full force, as party spirit 
for their rival candidates ran high. Some 
of the sophomores could not spare an hour 
from toiling over history in the library, and 
others consented to come only on condi- 

The History of an Ambition 51 

tion that they might bring their books 
to study. With characteristic curiosity, 
most of the freshmen were there for the 
fun of the novelty. It was found neces- 
sary to send out recruiting officers to 
drum up a quorum. Meanwhile, Mar- 
garet and Lois remained, ostensibly study- 
ing, in their respective rooms. 

To Lois, alone behind her closed door, 
the minutes stretched out interminably. 
At first she made a pretense of working 
over astronomical calculations, but soon 
dropping her pencil she began to pace 
restlessly from desk to window, with 
every sense on the alert to catch any 
signs of approaching messengers. She 
had reached a stage where long-continued 
expectation and struggle to achieve a pur- 
pose had apparently deadened desire. It 
seemed to her on the surface that she 
would not care much, no matter what the 
result ; and yet all the while, deep in her 
heart, she shrank in terror from the possi- 
ble blankness of a certainty. She began 
to reflect dully that no honor was worth 
the price which she had paid on specula- 

52 Vassar Studies 

tion, as it were. She thought regretfully 
of the opportunities for real friendship 
and scholarly accomplishment which had 
been sacrificed to frittering pastimes and 
uninteresting companions. 

Then, with the well-known superstitious 
feeling that to expect the worst may ward 
it off, she pretended to herself that Mar- 
garet was surely elected ; otherwise, by 
this time, Grace would have come run- 
ning to announce the good news. With 
a sudden throb of fierce jealousy, she 
wondered why Margaret should have 
everything beauty, popularity, success 
without an effort. 

And the girls would pity her ! Smitten 
with a swift unreasoning desire to escape 
somewhere out of sight, away from their 
effusive condolence and maddening pet- 
ting, she rushed to the door just in time 
to hear the sound of far-away clapping, 
and the quick patter of flying footsteps in 
the corridor. Drawing herself up, she 
tried to smile. Grace dashed upon her. 
" You Ve got it ! You Ve got it ! " 

Lois turned white. Across her mind 

The History of an Ambition 53 

flashed instinctively, " Poor Margaret ! " 
And then a glow shone out in her eyes, 
and she threw back her head, and smiled. 

Late that night, after the chattering 
girls who had thronged her room all day 
had at last left her alone with Grace, she 
sank down among the pillows on her 
couch, saying, "If you don't mind, Grace, 
I think I '11 cry." 

As the months of her senior year 
passed on, Lois discovered the taste of 
ashes underneath the sweetness of pre- 
eminence. When she took the chair as 
president of the Students' Association, in 
spite of the enthusiastic applause, she felt 
subtly that an atmosphere of antagonistic 
criticism had gathered about her success. 
Craving commendation to justify herself 
in the conspicuous position which she had 
assumed, she sounded a number of girls 
afterward with respect to their opinions. 
All said that she did very well ; one envied 
her her knowledge of Roberts's Rules of 
Order ; another wished for half as much 
self-possession ; a third suggested that 
she speak a trifle more distinctly. Not 

54 Vassar Studies 

until she had ceased to care so keenly did 
any one give her the spontaneous praise 
for excellence for which she longed. 

Time glided on, bringing discomfort 
and disappointment, as well as morsels of 
satisfaction. It became the custom for a 
certain group to oppose whatever meas- 
ures she advocated in the Association. 
She was at odds with several on the Ex- 
ecutive Board. She found that she bore 
the public responsibility for all the irra- 
tionalities of the student body. Many of 
her pet plans for reform miscarried. Not- 
withstanding the fact that every student 
knew her, and the freshmen always looked 
shyly pleased to receive a bow, notwith- 
standing her official prominence at many 
a social function, notwithstanding the 
delightful importance attaching to her 
views, she was ill at ease sensible of crit- 
ical eyes ready to note any defect or 

One pleasure, for which she had blindly 
hoped, befell her, though with diminished 
glory of demonstration. In March, when 
the list of those who had completed the 

The History of an Ambition 55 

college work with honor was to be made 
public, the senior class, in token of dis- 
approbation of the system, requested that 
the announcement might be made pri- 
vately, without jubilation, to each of the 
students concerned. Traces of repressed 
satisfaction over the unusual length of 
the list, however, appeared among the 
seniors themselves, and the congratula- 
tions, though almost guiltily sedate, were 
warm. The first wave of gladness, reced- 
ing, left. Lois with remorseful memories 
of showily superficial scholarship. Never- 
theless, she was far happier than before 
in having this salve for the pin-pricks of 
self-distrust : the fact that Margaret had 
failed to attain a similar distinction seemed 
to indicate that she was really less typical 
of the standard college girl than Lois had 
proved herself. 

This second and less valued success 
heightened Lois's anticipatory fancies of 
the coming Founder's Day. Through all 
the harassing cares of her official term, 
she had nourished fondly the idea of the 
glory, shared with no one else for the 

56 Vassar Studies 

time being, of representing the student 
body before the world on the birthday of 
the founder. Then she would be pointed 
out as "the president of the Students' 
Association the most admired girl ' in 

At last, the day arriving found Lois, 
after a final worried scrutiny of the image 
in the mirror, walking swiftly down to the 
college parlors. The speaker for the 
day, whom she was to introduce with her 
carefully prepared speech to the audience 
waiting upstairs, was already there, im- 
maculate in dress-suit and shining linen. 
At the door of the chapel, crowded with 
students and their guests, when Lois 
spied the faces turned toward her from 
the seats or bending curiously from the 
gallery, she was struck with sudden shy- 
ness, and advanced with downcast eyes 
down the long aisle, on the lecturer's arm. 
She forgot to wonder if the girls liked 
her gown. It seemed as if they would 
never reach the platform, and then that 
the steps were endless leading up. Fi- 
nally, she knew that she was mechanically 

The History of an Ambition 57 

sinking into a little gilded chair set before 
a bank of palms, and she saw her escort 
carefully deposit his roll of manuscript on 
the floor before taking the other seat of 

Her speech was to come as soon as the 
music ceased. With a flutter of eyelids, 
she stole a glance at the audience rows 
and rows of faces stretching into the far- 
thest corner. She felt herself growing 
pale, while an unreasoning terror crept 
over her. What if she should break 
down ! After these four years ! And 
the girls would pity her! It was time for 
her to speak. Almost involuntarily she 
rose, and moving a few steps forward, 
opened her lips. She did not know what 
she was saying ; she was conscious only 
of an uncontrollable trembling, as she 
heard her own voice ring out and echo 
back from the roof. Then she remem- 
bered that the elocution teacher had cau- 
tioned her against permitting that metallic 
ring to become manifest, and she found 
herself listening for it, as if it were the 
voice of another person. After a while 

58 Vassar Studies 

she began to notice different faces here 
and there. One, far away, leaning toward 
her from the gallery, smiled. It was 
Margaret, and all at once Lois was smit- 
ten with the realization that she could 
not remember the first word of the next 
sentence. An instant's pause, with hun- 
dreds of faces staring up at her, and 
then her tongue continued mechanically 
through the laboriously practised speech. 
At last, in the sweetest rapture of relief 
which she had ever experienced, she was 
again in the gilded chair, and the most 
glorious moment had passed. 

Later in the evening, when left alone 
for a moment after the illustrious, if some- 
what fatiguing, ordeal of playing a part 
on the grand Reception Committee, Lois 
had sunk down to rest in a nook cur- 
tained with Bagdads. From behind her 
came snatches of a low-toned conversation. 

" She was like a doll." It was the voice 
of that classmate whom Lois, in an un- 
guarded moment, had once nicknamed 
"Tennyson's Brook." 

The History of an Ambition 59 

" A pretty doll, but then not much life." 

"Yes, was n't it too bad ! She is really 
a very nice little thing bright, you know, 
and quantities of character, and all that." 

"It is an honor, is n't it, to be presi- 
dent of the Students' Association?" 

" Oh, sometimes. It used to be. Last 
year we elected the brainiest girl in col- 
lege; and the year before she was the 
most popular ; and when I entered, the 
president was simply the best all-round 
fine girl." 

"And this one?" 

"This one? Oh, Lois. Well, I don't 
know. I never understood exactly why 
we chose her, unless well, you see, she 
had run for office so often pretty often 
and had been defeated several times, and 
she cared so much about winning more 
than any one else, and she well, you un- 
derstand, don't you ? she wanted it so 
much, and well I suspect that we 
elected her from pity." 



AND this one is the Genius. Different 
from the other photographs, is n't it ? 
Most of my college friends were the 
sweetest things. What ! You think her 
beautiful ? With that high forehead and 
starved sort of eyes and thin face ! Like 
Lepage's Joan of Arc? Joan of Arc 
Bastien Lepage let me think oh, yes, 
now I remember that big picture in the 
Metropolitan Gallery ! A girl with light 
blue eyes and her hand stretched out, and 
with her clothes not well made. I don't 
know ; the Genius was dark, and well, 
slimmer, and she wore her hair altogether 
different. To be sure, she resembled 
Joan in the countrified way she dressed. 
You see, she did not have much money. 

The Genius 61 

She seemed not to care for that, however. 
In fact, she did not care for anything ex- 
cept her bothersome old " Ideals," and 
oh, yes and writing. Why, would you 
believe it? she 'd rather write any day 
than eat ! Perfectly ridiculous ! But then, 
she never did have a particle of common 

You wish that I would tell you about 
her ? I love to talk about the Genius ; 
people are always so interested. I fancy 
that they wonder how I ever managed to 
get along with her for a whole year. She 
was my room-mate at college. We had 
two of the dearest rooms, opening into 
each other, with four windows in the 
larger. That was mine absolutely dar- 
ling ! embroidered pillows all over the 
couch, and easy-chairs, and a tea-table 
(I 'm awfully sociable), and photographs 
stuck up everywhere (sometimes I sus- 
pected that the Genius was envious be- 
cause I have so many friends), and a 
border of posters at the top of the wall, 
and signs which the boys procured for me 
in town when they came up for the 

62 Vassar Studies 

Founder's Day Reception, and banners 
blue, crimson, orange and black, and so 
forth and a fish-net draped over the door 
(I am simply devoted to anything aes- 
thetic!). The Genius took the little 
room a nightmare ! positively nothing in 
it so that she could go in and shut the 
door when I had company in the other. 
She was a regular hermit, and so peculiar 
that I found it a terrible nervous strain to 
live with her. Actually my health almost 
broke down after the mid-year examina- 
tions ; for a while I feared that I might 
be obliged to give up and go home ; but I 
contrived to struggle on until June. I 
often think that I might have been strong 
enough to complete the course, if it had 
not been for the Genius. 

For instance, during the first week of 
the semester before the Genius came, I 
had the loveliest time ! College life was 
not the least bit trying. Some of the 
other freshmen, who were horribly home- 
sick, used to come into my room, and eat 
apples and preserved ginger, while I 
played "Home, Sweet Home" on my 

The Genius 63 

zither. They would sit around nibbling 
and looking sadder and sadder until the 


tears rushed to their eyes, and they cried 
with their faces against my rose-and-gray 
couch-cover. It was melancholy for me, 
but it did them ever so much good. You 
know how it is you get to feeling so 
sorry for yourself when you hear your own 
sobs that it distracts your mind. After the 
arrival of the Genius, the girls did not visit 
me more than two or three or, maybe, four 
times a day each one, because they saw 
that she did not like to be disturbed dur- 
ing study hours. I am sure that they 
were not half so noisy as college boys. 
Of course, it was hard on me, because I 
absolutely need social intercourse to keep 
up my spirits ; I grew very much depressed 
especially in the morning just before 
going to the first-hour recitation in math- 
ematics and consequently found the 
work more wearing on my nerves. 
Honestly, in the spring my appetite be- 
gan to fail, and I felt so languid that I 
wanted to be outdoors all day. More- 
over, I was not able to return in the fall. 

64 Vassar Studies 

The Genius did not go back either, as she 
had hoped ; but I don't know I think 
that it was mostly her own fault a sort 
of retribution or discipline or something 
like that, you know. 

Dear me ! I have not told you about 
our first meeting. She did not arrive un- 
til the second Saturday just before dinner 
(she was always late to everything par- 
ticularly breakfast) ; and when she ap- 
peared at my door, escorted by a senior, 
I was curling my hair. I intended to let 
myself down gradually to a Madonna-like 
coiffure such as the other intellectual girls 
wore. By the way, don't you think that 
the Venus of Milo does her hair pretty 
well, front view ? I am going to try how 
it suits me some day. Where was I ? 
Oh, yes, when that senior introduced the 
Genius, I could not shake hands could 
I ? while the tongs were all twisted 
around a lock. She flushed up a dark 
red, not a becoming blush at all and then, 
walking over to a window, pushed up the 
sash and sat on the ledge. Cool, was n't it ? 
or else she was embarrassed. I think it is 

The Genius 65 

selfish to be shy. Bashfulness springs 
from self-consciousness. Is n't it fascinat- 
ing to dig down to the roots of ideas ? 
Shallow intellects can never wrest the 
highest meaning from life. Well, as soon 
as I saw the Genius, I perceived instantly 
that she could never be congenial to me. 
And besides, she was so tall and thin that 
she made me have the effect of being too 
well rounded. Of course, I know that 
the ideal of friendship is " two souls with 
but a single thought "; but I think that 
there ought to be an additional stipulation 
concerning height. 

While she sat there on the ledge, I was 
so afraid that she would receive the impres- 
sion that I did not like her, that I began 
to talk as fast as I could about every- 
thing the table fare and the work she 
would have to make up and the rule of 
sending stupid freshmen home if they 
failed in too many examinations. And 
what do you suppose ? here is gratitude 
for you ! when we became better ac- 
quainted, she said that at first she thought 
that I was a frivolous little thing without 

66 Vassar Studies 

a heart. The idea of me being frivolous ! 
Why, all my friends here at home con- 
sider me a regular dig. She was not very 
keen about some things. For my part, 
I never confided to her what were my 
views of her character ; I believe in using 

That was one of the great points of 
dissimilarity between us her utter lack 
of reticence. Before a week had passed, 
she had given me an account of her en- 
tire history. Everybody belonging to 
her was dead, and she had been teaching 
school for years in a forsaken New 
England village without even a railway. 
She had always wanted to go to a college, 
or somewhere, so as to cultivate a faculty 
she had for writing poetry and so on ; but 
she could not save enough money from 
her salary. A woman living near (she 
looks starved in her picture, just like the 
Genius) did not have any one else to 
take care of, and she believed that the 
Genius possessed wonderful talent, and so 
offered to send her to college. She did 
not have much money herself, but the 

The Genius 67 

Genius intended to pay her back some 
time. I consider that the Genius was 
unappreciative ; she did not write to that 
woman oftener than once a week, and I 
generally wrote home three times count- 
ing postal cards and notes when they 
sent me boxes and things. The Genius 
answered my expostulations by saying 
that her friend preferred that she should 
concentrate her energies on her work. 

It may be that she sincerely judged 
herself economical in the expenditure of 
energy. Is n't it comical how people can 
hold mistaken ideas concerning them- 
selves? She used to waste whole even- 
ings squander hours in listening to the 
organist practising in the darkened chapel, 
or in leaning from a window to gaze at 
the stars, or, curled up in a corner of the 
library, in reading books which were not 
prescribed in any course. And then, 
sometimes, just when I was ready to go 
to sleep, she would come upstairs, and sit 
down to study in my room because our 
drop-light was fastened to my burner. It 
would not have been polite for me to 

68 Vassar Studies 

complain, so I would merely say that the 
air was bad, and throw up all four win- 
dows. After a few minutes, she would 
shiver and look vaguely around, and 
pretty soon she would sneeze, and then 
go into her own room. 

Do you wonder that I found it a 
nervous strain to live with her? As 
another illustration, there was that fuss 
which she made when her first essay 
was returned, marked in red ink, " Re- 
write." She put me in a fidget by lying 
on her bed, face downward, all the after- 
noon. I am so sensitive that such 
demonstrations wear me out through the 
drain on my sympathies. About twilight, 
getting up, she said that she had decided 
to go home, because it was only a waste 
of time and money for her to remain. 
Instantly I began to ponder which of my 
congenial friends I should invite to room 
with me. Of course, I was sorry for her, 
but sometimes we just have to bow 
our heads to fate. Well, while she was 
starting to pack, I happened to pick up 
the essay, and discovered on the last page 

The Genius 69 

another note which she had not seen. It 
said that, although in mechanical execu- 
tion the work was faulty, in power of con- 
ception and treatment it was far above the 
average. That girl acted half crazy- 
danced around the room, flung her arms 
about me, and kept exclaiming that she 
was too happy to live. Was n't it ridic- 
ulous for her to depend so entirely upon 
another person's opinion ? Now, as for 
me, I knew when my essays were good, 
although generally the critic did not like 
to commit herself. 

So the Genius stayed at college, and 
after a while she began to get " Ex- 
cellent" on her essays, and have her 
stories and poems printed in the college 
magazine. I never could understand how 
she accomplished anything with her 
peculiar methods. The truth is that she 
had no method. After wandering around 
alone in the Pines, she used to steal away 
to the attic to write behind big ghostly tin 
pipes, or, in the spring, to the orchard or 
the fields. Nearly every Saturday that 
was our day for writing themes I was 

70 Vassar Studies 

obliged to spend a long time in looking 
for her to tell her that luncheon was 
over. Now, when I wrote, I had system. 
I believe that if you take plenty of nour- 
ishment and recreation your intellect will 
work along by itself. Unconscious cere- 
bration, you know. That is science. 
And another point : when I desired to 
think hard I always laid my head down 
on my desk in order to facilitate the flow 
of ideas to the brain. Have n't you ever 
noticed it in church, when you rest your 
forehead on the pew in front ? I always 
worked a definite time, and then stopped. 
That is system. One thing I never per- 
mitted myself to do the Genius was per- 
fectly conscienceless regarding it and 
that was, to skip a meal. 

As a result, my thoughts were clearer 
and more simple than those of the 
Genius. My handwriting was better too. 
Hers was almost illegible ; I dare say that 
she regarded it as an indication of origi- 
nality. Once I offered to copy something 
for her, because it seemed a pity to have 
that poem scrawled it was her competi- 

The Genius 71 

tive poem for Founder's Day, and it was 
pretty good, and I was anxious that she 
should win the prize ; she snatched the 
paper away as if my touch might spoil it. 
The Genius cared considerably for that 
poem, and she was wild to have it chosen 
as the best from the whole college. 
That friend in Maine would then see that 
she had not been mistaken in believing in 
her. It would be, too well, a sort of ad- 
vertisement of ability. The reason why I 
wanted her to win was, first, of course, for 
her own sake, and then so that I might be 
able to point her out to my guests as my 
celebrated room-mate. You know, all the 
boys from the other colleges come there 
on Founder's Day. Think of the glory 
of having your own poem read before that 
great audience ! At one time I intended 
to try for the prize myself, but I hap- 
pened to be too busy with extra work the 
second semester. However, I was so 
eager that the Genius should win that I 
often did the dusting when it was her 
turn, so that she might have more time to 
write. And in spite of all that, to behave 

72 Vassar Studies 

the way she did ! It was criminal ingrati- 
tude of course, I mean toward that 
woman in Maine. 

But then, I suppose I should not have 
expected anything different. She was 
peculiar all the way through. In fact, 
she was abnormal. That year was aw- 
fully valuable in teaching me forbearance. 
There was her habit of borrowing things 
without asking permission. I know that 
she was generous with her own property, 
but she did not have very much anyhow, 
and well, how would you like to go to 
your room some afternoon and find your 
watch and fur cape and alligator-skin 
pocket-book with silver mountings, and 
new muff of white fox all missing ? And 
then, after you have notified the author- 
ities and telephoned for a detective and 
suggested suspicions, and when the girls 
are all gathered around you, looking so 
scared while you describe strange noises 
and vanishing figures how would you 
enjoy having your room-mate, who had 
been in town all day, come sauntering in 
wearing every one of the stolen articles ? 

The Genius 73 

I would not forgive the Genius until she 
coaxed and coaxed. She had grown pretty 
fond of me by that time, and she could 
not bear to feel that I was displeased. 

Notwithstanding that, she was rather 
disagreeably critical at times. Why, 
would you believe it ? she maintained 
that character-study was rude ! I would 
scorn to be impolite, and yet I had the 
greatest fun studying character at con- 
certs. My friends and I used to sit in 
the gallery and test the attention of in- 
dividuals in the audience downstairs by 
mesmerizing them. Judging from the 
frequency with which they glanced up at 
us, I surmise that few of them truly loved 
music. The Genius always listened with 
her eyes shut. It made her conspicuous ; 
but then, she never paid any regard to 
the conventionalities. I am very particu- 
lar concerning such little observances, be- 
cause convention is crystallized politeness, 
you know. 

The Genius displayed further oddities 
in her choice of associates all the queer- 
est girls in college, when, as my room- 

74 Vassar Studies 

mate, she might have been often with my 
set. It was one of her companions who 
remarked that I appeared to be gifted 
with an appreciation of the humorous in 
music. I never cared what such girls 
said. One of her friends was so absent- 
minded that she kept forgetting to bow 
to people. The Genius was forever go- 
ing off with her to see the sunset. An- 
other eccentric creature, who usually 
stood around in corners at receptions, 
frequently invited the Genius to stand 
with her. I think that it was a pose with 
both of them imitation of the Spectator, 
you know. She furthermore indulged in 
a similarly conspicuous and crazy custom 
in the spring of tearing off over the fields 
to the woods every afternoon, coming 
back long after dinner-time with her arms 
full of rubbish. I often carried bread 
and milk up to our rooms for her, and 
generally she would toss away the milk 
so as to put flowers in the glass just 
common wild flowers. 

The most bothersome part, however, 
of her ridiculous conduct lay in her insane 

The Genius 75 

ideals and theories of how she ought to 
treat other people. To see her attempt- 
ing to carry her principles into practice 
almost threw me into nervous prostration. 
To find out that she has been taking care 
of a student who afterward proves to 
have been coming down with the scarlet 
fever, and I had never had it myself ! To 
watch her rowing loads of ragamuffins 
over the lake when there were few enough 
boats for the girls ! To be scolded for 
demanding proper service from the table- 
maids, when I am positive that I should 
not grow tired, even if I had been ironing 
all day, provided I had been brought up 
to that occupation ! And, worst of all, to 
learn that she has given away to the 
newsboys in town all that delicious maple 
sugar sent by the woman in Maine ! 
Why, I 'd have been willing to buy it 
from her, and pay her enough so that she 
could get the dark brown kind for the 
poor children. The quality was utterly 
wasted upon their indiscriminate palates. 
I regard that proceeding as a slight to 
her friend. But then, the Genius never 

76 Vassar Studies 

appeared to pay much attention to her 
wishes anyway, especially in that affair of 
the poem. 

If only she had behaved with common 
sense about that competition, I should 
have been too perfectly happy on that 
Founder's Day. As it was, I had a 
splendid time. I had three guests the 
best-looking men I knew, because the 
girls grow so critical during the weeks of 
college seclusion that they form exalted 
ideals of manly beauty. Was n't it fun to 
walk down the chapel aisle with one man 
beside me and two following, while the 
girls without guests leaned over from the 
gallery to watch us ! I wore the sweetest 
new gown pale yellow trimmed with fur 
around the neck, cut low the kind that 
keeps looking as if it were going to slip 
off your shoulders. I pinned on all the 
violets which the boys sent me. The 
Genius wanted me to leave two of 
the bunches in water, but that would 
have been impolite to the givers, and 
besides they would not have made such a 

The Genius 77 

My men told me that they had never 
enjoyed a more delightful evening. I had 
filled their programmes with the names 
of the prettiest girls in my class, because 
I was anxious that the college should 
make a good impression. I did not ask 
the Genius for a number ; you see, she 
could not dance. But I did intend to 
have them meet her sometime maybe 
the next day. Somehow I could not 
bring it about conveniently. Perhaps 
she did not care very much ; she was feel- 
ing disappointed about the poem. 

What about the poem ? Well, it was 
this way. At first, she wanted awfully to 
win the prize, and she wrote a poem it 
was the one I offered to copy. It was 
pretty good, and everybody who heard it 
said that no other student could do so 
well. The Genius was always reading 
her writings to me or to some one else ; it 
seemed as if she craved sympathy too 
much. I should not wonder if she had 
well, you know, starved for it since her 
family died. She kept their pictures in 
her room on the table where she wrote. 

78 Vassar Studies 

They were rather country-looking people, 
but I dare say she was fond of them. 

Where was I ? Oh, yes, the Genius 
had written the poem, and we were all 
certain that it would be chosen for the 
exercises on Founder's Day. I had even 
asked her to give me the original manu- 
script for my " Memory Bill," and what do 
you suppose ? the very evening before 
the competition was to close, she came in 
after moping around all day, and said 
that she had decided not to submit her 
poem. I begged and implored and 
pleaded and teased, but she would not 
budge an inch. She was so stubborn that 
she absolutely refused to listen to my 
arguments. She kept saying that what 
was right, was right. I don't know it 
seems to me that sometimes it depends 
on the circumstances. 

After the prize had been awarded, I 
gave her no rest until she told me why 
she had withdrawn. She had discovered 
that the competitor who was considered 
to have the next best chance a scrawny 
little sophomore with a comical fashion of 

The Genius 79 

wearing her hair in four ringlets falling 
from a twist wanted to win so as to 
please her mother. As she had never had 
anything printed, or received any encour- 
agement like that, she was building great 
hopes on this chance. And so the Genius 
thought it incumbent upon herself to 
remove the obstacle of her own poem. 
Was n't she simple ! She did not appear 
to give the slightest weight to the claims 
of that woman in Maine, or to my wishes. 
Perhaps she sincerely thought that she 
was acting from principle ; but I am cer- 
tain that it was mere feeling. It was be- 
cause this other girl was doing it to please 
her mother. 

Did the other girl win ? Oh, no, the 
prize went to some senior whom nobody 
had suspected of being a poet. The 
Genius did not say much on the evening 
when the result was announced in chapel. 
She went into her room, and locked the 
door. It was rather rude, don't you think 
so ? I would not have disturbed her, if 
she had wanted to look at her photographs 
all night. 

8o Vassar Studies 

Why, dear me ! must you go so soon ? 
You have scarcely been here at all, and 
you have not told me a word of news. 
Where is the Genius now? Oh, I am 
under the impression that she is teaching 
somewhere in the wilds of New England. 
I have lost track of her since hearing that 
she could not return to college on account 
of the death of her friend. I doubt if she 
ever accomplishes anything in literature. 
Her methods are so peculiar, you know, 
and she has such queer ideas. Very 
likely she objects to the element of com- 
petition in the struggle for existence, and 
in a starving business like that, of course, 
she would have no chance for survival. 
Well, I don't know perhaps it is all for 
the best. Oh, yes, no doubt she was a 
genius ; but then, she never did have a 
particle of common sense. 


THE gaslight in the gymnasium was 
just bright enough to illuminate without 
crudity the lower portion of the lofty 
apartment, while leaving the rafters in 
picturesque obscurity. It was the night 
of the Hallow-e'en revel a rustic ball 
given to the freshmen by the seniors. 
Girls everywhere ! Maidens, wearing cal- 
ico gowns and scoop bonnets, were frol- 
icking with suspiciously fair-faced farmer 
lads, in overalls and flapping straw hats, 
through an intricate and original dance, 
of which the principal features appeared 
to consist of " Swing your partner," and 
"Sashay, everybody!" Rosy - cheeked 
grandmothers, playing chaperon with 
prim gray curls under wonderful caps, 


82 Vassar Studies 

were constantly deserting their posts to 
frisk through a dance at the request of 
fierce, long-haired cowboys, sombrero in 
hand ; and artless Gretchens, with muslin 
kerchiefs and flying braids, whirled about 
in the arms of gayly plumed Indians, or 
visited the dusky booths where bent 
witches mumbled fortunes from under 
tangled black locks. 

Having run up from New York for a 
day at the college, I had slipped over to 
the gymnasium, eager for a glimpse of 
the well-remembered merriment. As I 
stood in the doorway the remarkably 
handsome young farmer who was calling 
off the dance waved her baton in gay 
welcome. During a pause between num- 
bers, when the attentive swains, having 
raided sundry tall cans of lemonade, shiny 
new dish-pans full of peanuts, and a bar- 
rel of apples, were hovering about their 
sweethearts, in mimic masculine devotion 
fanning them with big hats plucked off 
for the purpose, the leader came thread- 
ing her way through hilarious groups to a 
seat at my side. 

Heroic Treatment 83 

" Is n't it fun ! " she exclaimed, with 
color glowing and dark eyes shining. 

Looking at her as she sat on the lower 
step of a ladder, in rough blue jeans, with 
a scarlet necktie askew under a negligee 
collar, and a rather battered straw hat 
pushed back on her classic head, I thought 
of the picture she had made the preceding 
week, in a box at the Metropolitan, wear- 
ing a low-cut gown of ivory satin. 

" Is it more fun than grand opera?" I 

" Grand opera is not fun," she an- 
swered, " it is pleasure. And the differ- 
ence between fun and pleasure 

" Pleasure plus a mirthful atmos- 

" Yes, the difference lies in atmosphere. 
Here there is a light-hearted joyousness, 
arising from the presence of so many 
young, irresponsible creatures 

" Don't call them irresponsible." 

" I know that some of them are trying 
to carry the world on their shoulders, but 
to-night they are all children. Are n't 
they enjoying it!" 

84 Vassar Studies 

" No one need be a wall-flower." 

" No envying, no jealousy, no vanity. 
Give me a roomful of girls as a recipe for 

" Who is that little thing dressed like a 
baby, with the big eyes and lace hood and 
long white frock ? " I inquired as a 
young girl passed with a shy glance at 

"That? Oh" Rachel had bowed 
graciously, and with an expression sug- 
gesting uneasiness was watching the 
ingenuous face light up happily with a 
smile and quick blush " that is a little 
friend of mine. Well, no, not exactly a 
friend ; she is one of the freshmen." 

"And- -?" 

Rachel was following the pretty figure 
with a disquieted gaze. " Hero worship 
is good for boys a shoulder-to-shoulder, 
healthy admiration ; and it need not hurt 
the normal girl who keeps her nerves 
steady with bicycle and basket-ball. But 
this child is the dreamy kind ; she is 
wasting her energies in thinking about 

Heroic Treatment 85 

" Does she know you ?" 

" Only superficially, not enough to feel 
any genuine affection. It is pleasant to 
be liked, but it is uncomfortable to be 
idealized. And it is dangerous for her. 
She is very young yet. Oh, I beg your 
pardon ! Have n't you had refreshments ? 
You shall have a gallon of red lemonade." 

When next I visited the college, I found 
the seniors gathered in their softly lighted 
parlor for the distribution of valentines. 
On the chairs, on the window-ledges, on 
the floor, everywhere, were girls in dainty 
light gowns, with eager faces and tongues 
busily exclaiming, while the class presi- 
dent, standing by a deep basket which over- 
flowed with white envelopes of every size, 
was reading the address on each. When 
the chatter and flutter and laughter over 
bright verses tossed to and fro had begun 
to subside, as the girls drifted out into the 
corridor, I caught a glimpse of Rachel 
walking slowly toward her own room. 
Noticing that her hands were filled with 

86 Vassar Studies 

valentines, I asked if she had received 
any from the little freshman. 

Her eyes clouded. "The child has 
sent me seven," she answered, " and each 
one means a dissipation of time and 
thought and energy in the writing. It is 

" Hero worship still ? " 

"Yes, admiration, imitation 

" That is not bad." 

" Ah, but add emotionalization. She 
cannot think of anything else while I am 
in sight at least, that is what she says. 
She blushes when I speak to her, and 
mopes when I forget to smile." 

" What remedies have you tried ? " 

" Expostulation that she has great 
ability, and such an abnormal, unnatural 
feeling must hinder the growth of that 
ability ; that she should keep her heart 
and soul open only to the actual and to 
the real." 

" I never suspected you of anything 
like that." 

" Well " Rachel made a wry face " it 
was not easy. And after all, it accom- 

Heroic Treatment 87 

plished nothing except to give her an op- 
portunity to explain how any one can be 
a 'lover of the beautiful without loss of 
manliness.' Oh, me ! " with a long sigh 
at the recollection, "and then I essayed 
the effect of ridicule, and she withdrew 
into herself, brooding in an introspective 
way she has, and haunting me with big 
hurt-looking eyes. Now I am practising 
indifference ; I ignore her." 

" And the result - ? " 

Rachel held up the packet of verses. 
" I have her on my conscience because I 
was really very nice to her at first before 
she took it into her head to fall down and 

" Why not encourage her to become 
acquainted with you as you actually are?" 

Rachel looked amazed. " Would n't 
that make her worse ? " 

" ' Visual familiarity, oral strangeness 
the great aids to idealization in love,' " 
I quoted. 

" And you think that it might cure her 
to discover that I am not what she fancies 
me to be ? " 

88 Vassar Studies 

"You might experiment." 

Rachel stared at me solemnly for a 
full minute. At last, " I shall certainly 
try it," she said. 

At the end of the following month, I 
was again at the college for the last hall 
play of the year. As Rachel was chair- 
man of the committee, I saw her only for 
a hurried greeting in the dining-room, 
and later on in momentary glimpses of a 
flushed face at stage doors. After the 
curtain had fallen on the last scene, there 
was a fluttering of students toward the 
greenroom to besiege the actors with 
ecstatic congratulations kisses and ex- 
cited laughter. Rachel as manager re- 
ceived her share, standing tall and 
handsome in the centre of an exulting 
cluster. She came down into the audi- 
torium with the little freshman stepping ra- 
diantly beside her. The child impressed me 
as shyly well-bred, although once or twice 
she betrayed abstraction by failing to re- 
ply to several remarks which I addressed 

Heroic Treatment 89 

to her. The frankly admonitory manner 
in which Rachel called her attention to 
the oversight indicated that a degree of 
intimacy had already been attained. 

Later, when Rachel and I were alone 
together Rachel brewing chocolate at 
her tea-table and I at ease in a basket- 
willow chair I opened the subject. 

My companion glanced up quickly. 
" You should have seen her stare when I 

" Now, Rachel," reprovingly. 

Rachel was lifting the kettle lid to 
watch for boiling bubbles. " She did not 
like it to-night when the girls came around 
to congratulate me ; she turned away her 

" Anything set upon a pedestal ought 
to be out of reach." 

" I no longer discuss fashion except 
when she is out of ear-shot ; and as for 
slang, she is better than a system of fines. 
I don't play shinney-on-the-ice any more. 
I used to hippity-hop down the corridors 
when nobody was looking, but she has 

90 Vassar Studies 

an unfortunate habit of unexpected 

" Does she venture any criticism ? " 

" That depends on your definition of the 
word. But she watched me once march 
my best friend up-stairs by the ear. And 
I saw her face." 

" She seems devoted still." 

"Clinging to hope. However, I have 
great expectations that she will succumb 
when she notices how crookedly I pin my 
collar. Sometimes I invite her to my 
table for dinner not often, though, for I 
am pretty hungry nowadays." 

"Has she ceased to dedicate verses to 
you ? " 

" She has taken to prose." 

" Excellent ! " 

Rachel was pouring the chocolate ; she 
raised her eyes to mine. " I wish " she 

" What ? " I inquired. 

But Rachel did not answer. 

Founder's Day, several weeks later, 

Heroic Treatment 91 

tempted me to the college for the fourth 
time that year. All the morning the 
Main Building was throbbing with prepa- 
rations for the reception of the evening. 
Girls were everywhere some furnishing 
the ordinarily bare corridors with rugs 
and divans, chairs and cushions ; others 
adorning the parlors with flowers, draping 
curtains, and arranging artistic nooks ; 
still others were banking palms and 
ferns in the entrance-hall and on the 
platform in chapel, or directing the dis- 
posal of sculpture brought over from the 
Hall of Casts. Rachel, in demand, as 
usual, for her executive ability, was super- 
intending the process of clearing the 
great dining-room for dancing. At one 
time I spied the little freshman standing 
in the doorway with her arms full of wild 
cherry blossoms for the decorations. 
Her eyes were seeking Rachel, who just 
then, having twisted her head to get the 
effect of the rose and gray drapery being 
twined about the pillars, was unmistaka- 
bly squinting. The child turned away 
with a wistful trouble in her face. 

92 Vassar Studies 

That evening, as I was sitting among 
the groups on the staircase, watching the 
panorama of shifting clusters and couples 
which thronged the halls and parlors be- 
low, Rachel's small admirer slipped shyly 
into a place beside me. She did not 
speak much, seemingly absorbed in the 
changing play of color, light, and move- 
ment, and wooed to silence by the music 
of a waltz. Presently I found myself fol- 
lowing her glances through portieres to 
Rachel, holding court in a corner of the 
first reception room. She looked un- 
usually radiant apparently inspired to 
a pitch of becoming vivacity by the circle 
of admiring masculine faces. 

My companion was surveying the scene 
with an expression of vague discomfort. 
Finally she murmured, half to herself, 
" I wish that people did not care for 


" I don't know. Maybe it is because " 
she looked up at me almost pleadingly 
"it suggests vanity." 

" Everybody desires to please." 

Heroic Treatment 93 

" Do you think so ? " Then after a pause, 
" Did you ever see the Juno Ludovisi?" 

Recalling that face of magnificent dis- 
dain, I glanced toward Rachel glowing 
with the pleasure of the moment. " Yes, 
I have seen her," I replied. " Why do 
you ask ? " 

" Oh, nothing." 

A few minutes passed wordlessly. 
Then a low-voiced comment : " The men 
seem worried, and some of the girls are 
thinking about how they look." 

I caught a glimpse of Rachel holding 
her head high as she swept into the danc- 
ing room with the consciousness of many 
eyes upon her. 

" It requires a strong nature to endure, 
without detriment, the possession of phys- 
ical beauty," I ventured. 

" It requires a stronger nature to en- 
dure the lack of it." The girl was leaning 
her cheek against the banisters with a 
tired sigh. " I have been wondering if 
moods are a sign of weakness I mean, 
yielding to moods. Strength is superior 
to elation or depression." 

94 Vassar Studies 

I remembered occasional unsmiling peri- 
ods in the history of Rachel's days. " How 
about Cleopatra's 'infinite variety'?" 

"Why, yes, I never thought of it in 
that light. Only I never exactly ad- 
mired Cleopatra as an ideal character." 

Again a silence, dreamily listening to 
the music and pleasing our eyes with the 
gliding scene below. Gradually I be- 
came aware of a subtle change stealing 
over the little freshman an expectant 
stiffening of posture and a conscious ex- 
pression in her eyes. Rachel, on her way 
up-stairs with a cavalier, paused for a 
word. " Everything is going off beauti- 
fully. The floor is much better than last 
time, and there is not such a crowd. 
Don't the girls look pretty ! Loveliest 
gowns ! Oh, see there below the clock ! 
that ridiculous red Mother-Hubbard ! In- 
tended for an Empire, presumably. What 
a specimen ! " 

After Rachel had passed on, the child 
spoke softly : "I know that girl in red. 
She thinks the gown is beautiful ; she 
helped her mother make it." 

Heroic Treatment 95 

She sat with her chin resting on 
her hand, her eyes wide open, gazing 
at nothing. " Maybe we would not 
make fun of anything if we understood 

Later, " Somebody told me that it is a 
mistake to idealize anybody, but suppose 
that she really is an ideal character 

Another stillness ; then, " I wish that I 
understood everything." 

Not until Commencement week did I 
yield to the indulgence of another visit to 
the college. Reaching the ground in time 
to witness the Monday morning game of 
basket-ball, played for the edification of 
the alumnae who had graduated before 
the advent of that entertaining pastime 
or shall I say pursuit? I was invited to 
share the protection of Rachel's parasol. 
The scene was one of those most distinc- 
tively characteristic of the place a broad 
sweep of level lawn hemmed in partly by 
the curving gardens backed by shadowy 
pines and hemlocks, firs and spruces, and 

96 Vassar Studies 

partly by a semicircle of tall yew hedge. 
Ranged over one of the grassy courts 
were the players in the dark blue 
gymnasium suits with bright-hued neck- 
ties and collars. The spectators formed 
gay clusters of color here and there. 
Overhead arched the blue sky, softening 
mistily above the evergreens. 

Among the players who had been en- 
listed promiscuously from the different 
classes, I noticed the little freshman, fair 
with orange tie and ribbon on flying 
braids, skipping gracefully through a few 
waltzing steps while awaiting the signal 
for the game to begin. At Rachel's 
beckoning gesture, she came bounding 
lightly toward us. 

After a blithe welcome to me, and 
bright fun bandied with my companion, 
she exclaimed, " Now you must both 
shout for my side, and help us win." 

" I will cheer for you," I promised, " but 
I suspect that Rachel won't. The seniors 
are to play against you, and she is too 
loyal not to shout for them." 

" Then she must shout for both sides," 

Heroic Treatment 


laughed the little freshman, slipping an 
arm around Rachel and tilting her pretty 
head contentedly up at me, " because, you 
see, we 're friends." 



MARION tried not to hear the sudden 
burst of applause hand-clapping and 
girlish shrieks of inarticulate delight- 
softened by distance to a joyous shrill 
commotion. The professor rose to shut 
the transom, while the score of seniors 
around the long green-covered table 
seemed to draw deeper breaths. A flash 
leaped into eyes here and there travelling 
swiftly with an apprehensive smile ; 
one or two of the girls moved restlessly 
in their seats ; some fingered fountain-pens 
or snapped elastics on packets of notes ; 
others sat unnaturally still with a gaze 
carefully lowered. After an interval of 
silence, came more faintly the murmur of 
another expanding uproar. The pro- 
9 8 

The Career of a Radical 99 

fessor, resuming her place in the great 
easy chair, hospitable with its quaint 
height of back and arms, said, " If you 
please, Miss Roddis, we will go on with 
the report," and Marion shuffled her 
notes hastily to find the summarized re- 
sults of recent study. When she was 
speaking, the members of the class sat 
with eyes politely resting on her face 
while their thoughts went roving at every 
recurrent swell of muffled exultation. 

It had been whispered throughout the 
college on the afternoon of that March 
Monday that the announcement of senior 
honors would be made that night. The 
honor list comprised the names of all 
seniors who had maintained a certain 
standard of scholarship during the four 
years. As the students were never in- 
formed of their marks in recitation or ex- 
amination, except in case of failure to pass 
in a subject, there was always wide scope 
for speculation concerning the possibili- 
ties of the announcement. For some 
weeks before the decisive evening, daily 
chatter in the upper classes found absorb- 

ioo Vassar Studies 

ing interest in assorting the seniors into 
groups of those who were " sure to get an 
honor," those who were only " probabili- 
ties," and those who "ought to get one," 
but undoubtedly would not be distin- 
guished in that way. 

After Chapel, though many students 
belonging to the evening history class 
loitered about the senior parlor in 
hopes that the messenger with the list 
would arrive before time for recitation, 
Marion had marched unswervingly to the 
professor's room. She knew that she was 
numbered among the ''probabilities." At 
the first sound of applause she could not 
keep herself from stiffening nervously, al- 
though, when she saw the girl opposite mis- 
chievously framing with her lips the word, 
"congratulations," she had turned away 
her face unsmilingly. For Marion did 
not believe in the honor system. And 
Marion's beliefs, or disbeliefs, invariably 
affected her actions. 

Throughout the creeping hour the 
professor calmly conducted the discus- 
sion, apparently heedless of cheeks flush- 

The Career of a Radical 101 

ing into a slow glow under repressed 
excitement, and eyes beginning to burn in 
elaborately indifferent faces. There was 
a basket of growing ferns upon the table, 
and Marion remembered long afterward 
just how a spray of maiden-hair drooped 
over the edge and a frond of sword-fern 
hung broken half way. 

For an instant prolonged politely after 
" I think that is all for to-night," the girls 
sat quiet in painfully easy attitudes. 
Then, without haste, they began to 
gather up pens and notes, moving back 
their chairs leisurely, and lingering to 
look at book or picture or curious me- 
mento of foreign lands, before turning 
to catch a good-night nod and smile from 
the professor. 

Finally, some one of them reached the 
door and opened it, and they were pass- 
ing laggingly in ones and twos out into 
the corridor. An instant's peace, and 
then a dash from around the corner, and 
a swoop, and clutches of arms about three 
or four with, " You 're on it ! You 're on 
it ! " and a rustling tumult and a crowd- 

102 Vassar Studies 

ing round the news-bringers with, " Who ?" 
and " How many ?" and " Is it so-and-so ?" 

Marion disentangled herself in stern 
silence, while some one's joyous voice at 
her ear was exclaiming, " And you are 
one of the Commencement speakers 
too ! " Without a responsive glance, she 
walked swiftly away. Some of her friends 
who had come running after her with 
congratulations fell back, chilled and em- 
barrassed. In her progress down the 
corridor, every alley-way was an ambus- 
cade whence issued reinforcements ex- 
clamatory with good will. 

At the main staircase, a group stand- 
ing with arms over shoulders around a 
girl with shining eyes and smiling lips, 
fell upon Marion and drew her into the 
circle. The one in the centre took her 
limp hand, clinging to it as if wistful for 
all sympathy. Just then some one passed 
rapidly by without looking toward them, 
and Marion, catching a glimpse of a face 
set in lines of bitter disappointment, 
heard a whispered comment, " Everybody 
was certain that she would get an honor." 

The Career of a Radical 103 

Marion turned sharply upon them. 
" Girls," her voice quivered from its 
strained pitch, " oh, girls, it 's the injus- 
tice of it ! " and she was hurrying on to 
her own room alone. 

Pinned all over her door were notes of 
congratulation. With one sweep of her 
arm she was brushing them off, when she 
heard quick steps turning into the alcove. 

" Marion, some of the ' honor girls ' are 
going to telegraph the news home. If 
you wish to do so, send word to the 
messenger room before ten o'clock." 

Marion did not even say " Thank you." 
" I intend," and her tones were biting, 
" that they shall never hear of it at 
home." As she spoke, there flashed be- 
fore her memory an image of the slender 
little woman with hair fast changing to 
gray, with eager eyes burning in the thin 
face. She felt again the nervous kiss, 
more ambition than affection, which hur- 
ried her away to college every year. She 
heard the insistent voice, " Remember, 
Marion, your grandfather led his class." 

As swiftly came a vision, which lingered 

104 Vassar Studies 

longer, of her father with his peaceful 
look. " Live up to the best that is in 
you, daughter, and let the rest go." 

Marion had entered her room, and, 
locking the door, sat down by the window 
to think, leaving the gas unlighted so as 
to prevent troublesome calls. As she 
leaned her elbows on the sill, staring out 
toward the library, she noticed that the 
lights were turned low and the students 
had disappeared. From that she knew 
that it must be later than half-past nine, 
and there was the great question to be 
decided all over again before ten o'clock. 

Why should she not refuse to accept 
this " honor " which had been thrust upon 

The spirit of her whole college career 
demanded such a refusal. 

At the very opening of her new life, 
the key-note of her character had declared 
itself as a love almost pugnacious for in- 
tellectual independence. Undoubtedly, 
this trait, based upon a natural tendency, 
had been strengthened by her previous 
experience. The eldest daughter in a 

The Career of a Radical 105 

large family, she had early assumed re- 
sponsibility and authority. After gradu- 
ating from the high school, three years of 
teaching had by no means weakened her 
habit of self-reliance. Close companion- 
ship with her father, an earnest and 
liberal thinker, supplemented by an en- 
thusiastic assimilation of Emerson's teach- 
ings, sufficed to prepare her to become an 
active radical, whenever her principles 
should happen to clash with precedent. 

In taking the entrance examination for 
college, her method was significant. She 
worked leisurely, being in no haste to 
measure achievement by the arbitrary 
limit set by another mind. She did not 
hesitate to state her views in contradis- 
tinction to accepted text-book decisions. 
In the geometry paper she preferred to 
attempt original solutions, thereby spend- 
ing more time than was needed for a ready 
memory reproduction. She lingered over 
points that interested her, and slighted 
others. She disliked so thoroughly to be 
an echo that she was almost tempted to 
display some originality in the matter of 

io6 Vassar Studies 

giving dates. In choosing a subject from 
the list for essays, she selected one upon 
which she had never thought instead of 
others with which she was familiar. It 
was somewhat of a trial to her to correct, 
as required, a series of ungrammatical 
sentences ; she felt vaguely antagonistic 
toward bringing independent phraseology 
into harmony with accepted standards. 

Upon her arrival at college, she came 
into conflict with a state of affairs which 
cried out to the radical mind for help 
against precedent. She found existing a 
system of self-government. In the organ- 
ization of the students into a self-govern- 
ing body, the Faculty had directed the 
incorporation of three general rules refer- 
ring to exercise, sleep, and attendance at 
chapel. Upon becoming a member of 
the college, each student signed the con- 
stitution binding her in honor to respect 
the provisions therein enjoined. Marion 
objected to signing the constitution on 
the ground that the Association was 
falsely styled self-government, inasmuch 
as the laws had been originally imposed 

The Career of a Radical 107 

by a superior body. After a spirited dis- 
cussion of her position with the executive 
committee of the Students' Association, 
she was allowed to choose either to abide 
by the laws of the community which she 
had entered, or to consider herself under 
the surveillance of the Faculty. Marion 
replied with dignity that she had passed 
the boarding-school age, and gave her 
formal signature to the document. There- 
after, though keeping her pledge scrupu- 
lously, she preached reform at every 
opportunity. While maintaining that the 
rules were expedient in themselves (as 
she was merely an individualist, not an 
anarchist), she focussed her opposition up- 
on the fact that in drawing up its own 
constitution the Association had not been 
absolutely free. 

This first experience turned the main 
energy of Marion's reformatory zeal into 
one channel that of resistance to the 
conservative element at college as em- 
bodied in the authority of the Faculty. 
The great public question of her fresh- 
man year had considered the advisability 

io8 Vassar Studies 

of petitioning the Faculty for permission 
to wear academic caps and gowns. In 
the debate, Marion used her strength in 
protesting against appealing to the Fac- 
ulty. If it was an association for true 
self-government, she declared, the stu- 
dents should carry out independently 
their own decisions. When the petition 
was refused, she promptly arrayed her 
forces on the side of caps and gowns. 
Although recognizing reasonableness in 
objections against the costume as being 
a relic of medievalism, and as deepening 
the distinction between students and the 
outside world, she argued that when girls 
were old enough to come to college they 
were sufficiently mature to expect persua- 
sion instead of dictation. Marion herself 
was two years older than the average 

It was due in a measure to her efforts 
that Washington's Birthday of the follow- 
ing winter was marked by an outburst of 
undergraduate rebellion against authority. 
For certain reasons the Faculty had de- 
cided not to give the day as a holiday. 

The Career of a Radical 109 

The students were wrathful, pinning their 
justification to the name of patriotism. 
The birthday dawning discovered black- 
bordered posters announcing the death of 
patriotism. The girls attended classes in 
travelling garb, as if intending to catch 
the earliest train after dismissal. As the 
instructors entered the class rooms, they 
were greeted with national songs. The 
professors found on the blackboards star- 
ing signs expatiating on incidents in 
American history which contrasted with 
the present celebration, or, rather, want of 
celebration. One teacher checked some- 
what the obstreperous infatuation for our 
Country by requiring her pupils to trans- 
late into Latin the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. At dinner the seniors appeared 
dressed in black as priests and nuns, while 
their tables were draped in mourning and 
ornamented with imitation tombstones. 
A rope was stretched around the Faculty 
table, and flags were hung so as to cut 
them off from the students. Once during 
the meal the suggestion of a hiss was 
heard. Marion, breathing in the air of 

no Vassar Studies 

insurrection, began to hope that the girls 
would be capable in time of rising all to- 
gether in the might of unity to abolish 
the " Honor System." 

Marion was exceptionally suited to 
head such a crusade. In accordance with 
university tradition, the sympathies of 
the student body are almost invariably 
revolutionary. From the first, both in 
general and personal affairs, Marion had 
proved her lack of docility. One season 
when the Faculty deemed it wise, in con- 
sideration of the waste of strength in- 
volved, to prohibit the customary fourth 
hall play, Marion was chairman of the 
committee appointed to issue a mock play- 
bill for the play that never came off. 
She developed an unsuspected talent for 
satire so powerful that she barely escaped 
a reprimand. The refusal to permit bi- 
cycle races on Field Day afforded her 
further scope for frowning denunciation 
of nursery methods and for effectively 
sarcastic speeches upon paternalism. 
One winter the students circulated a peti- 
tion asking for an extension of the Christ- 

The Career of a Radical 1 1 1 

mas vacation. Marion had reached the 
stage when she declined to sign petitions 
of any kind from principle. Imagine her 
ire to hear one night in chapel an ad- 
dress to the girls, apropos of the vacation 
petition, scoring the two or three who had 
refused to give their signatures to the 
paper pledging all to return punctually, if 
the request should be granted. Failing to 
grasp the point of the admonition, Marion 
assumed that her beloved principle of in- 
dividualism was attacked. She spent the 
evening in firing upon her inoffensive 
friends a fusillade of quotations, chiefly 

It is only fair to add that Marion sel- 
dom hid behind quotations. She formed 
her own opinions, and stood by them 
boldly. In this respect she differed from 
the majority of the girls, who, however 
radical they might be in the mass, were 
generally docile as individuals under the 
pressure of superior knowledge and ex- 
perience. Occasionally a professor, may- 
be particularly forceful and decided as 
well as brilliant, exerted a strong even 

ii2 Vassar Studies 

compelling intellectual influence. Inde- 
pendence in method of study was invari- 
ably required, while originality of results, 
when strikingly in discord with the es- 
tablished view, was carefully corrected. 
Under one or two instructors of this de- 
scription, though many of the other pupils 
followed the leaders in the sheeplike way, 
Marion was continually demurring against 
what seemed to her dictatorial criticism. 
She often attempted argument, was 
honored with notice as " promising," and 
set back upon herself as " young yet." 

In her manner of studying, also, Marion 
was unlike the greater number of her 
mates. The students were expected to 
spend two hours in the preparation of 
each lesson. (Marion objected to the 
word lesson at an institution for higher 
education, as she repudiated the designa- 
tion of college girl instead of college 
woman.) Frequently a teacher gave out 
so much work that more than the specified 
time was demanded, and thus other sub- 
jects were robbed of due allowance. 
Girls are said to need the bit, boys the 

The Career of a Radical 113 

spur. The majority of the students per- 
mitted their work to master them ; they 
strained every nerve to accomplish the 
amount assigned, robbing themselves of 
rest, recreation, and reserve vitality. 
Marion was slow, steady, and thorough. 
After expending upon each piece of work 
the amount of time to which she con- 
sidered it entitled, even if she had failed 
to cover the ground required, she passed on 
to the next task. When some of her com- 
panions criticised her consciousness of the 
clock as unscholarly, she found a reply 
ready in the fact that the college day is 
divided strictly into successive periods. 

In deciding upon electives, Marion 
never consulted any one, not even her 
father. She acted unwaveringly upon the 
conviction that she herself understood her 
own needs better than anybody else. 
Sometimes, when troubled by a suggestion 
of misgiving verging toward regret for 
having adopted a certain course, she 
sweetened her philosophy of life with a 
grain of fatalism, and refused backward 

ii4 Vassar Studies 

When Marion was elected an editor of 
the Miscellany, her department grew 
markedly independent. Students and 
Faculty in their conduct of affairs which 
pertained to the community at large were 
frankly criticised. The issue of the mag- 
azine became each month something of 
an explosive event. Faculty decrees were 
discussed freely ; lectures were sharply re- 
viewed ; committee work was held up to 
public view ; hall plays were reported with 
an accompaniment of specific praise and 
blame. Perhaps, even if occasionally the 
scorings were based on presumptions 
somewhat too absolute, the power of the 
press in this particular instance tended 
toward elevation of ideal and improve- 
ment of effort. The most successful re- 
formers are seldom tender in handling 
personal feelings. In moulding society, 
they sometimes pinch an individual. 

As Marion sat there in her darkened 
room with her chin resting on her hands, 
she could look back with satisfaction upon 
a succession of minor reforms in which she 
had been influential. Her class had been 

The Career of a Radical 115 

the first to curtail the extravagance of 
flowers at the Sophomore Party. Her 
chapter of the Philalethean Society had 
been the pioneer in reviving the old literary 
spirit of the organization. She had served 
on the committee which renovated the 
celebration of Founder's Day. She had 
been prominent in advocating the demo- 
cratic allotment of the senior tables, and 
in supporting the resolution enjoining 
economy in respect to Class Day gowns. 
And, most important of all, this last year 
the Students' Association had carried a 
vote to suspend the ten-o'clock "curfew" 
rule, one of the three fundamental laws in 
the constitution. It had been a victory 
almost in defiance of the Faculty. 

But and Marion's palms pressing into 
her cheeks seemed to set her mouth in 
more resolute lines there was the " Honor 

In college life there are certain questions 
which come to the front, grow most absorb- 
ing, and then drop entirely out of sight 
for a few years. The " Honor System " 
was one of these recurrent topics of vivid 

n6 Vassar Studies 

interest. During Marion's college days, 
public opinion among the students had 
been gathering a wavelike force of increas- 
ing antagonism to the principle of discrimi- 
nation embodied in the promulgation of 
an " honor list." The main objection 
emphasized the assumption, mistaken or 
otherwise, that the system made excellence 
in scholarship a question of marks. 
Voraciously critical, the girls seized upon 
an apparent inconsistency. Throughout 
the undergraduate years, the college 
preached the importance of independent 
interest in each subject of study without 
stress upon marks that is, upon compara- 
tive facility in meeting the emergencies of 
recitation and examination. When, be- 
hold ! at the end of the course, those who 
had chanced to obtain marks above a 
certain standard were held up for honor as 
distinguished beyond their mates. Believ- 
ing that a superficial preparation could 
often achieve a more showily brilliant 
recitation, some argued that the weight 
laid upon marks by the " Honor System" 
discounted the more solid study which was 

The Career of a Radical 1 1 7 

not guided by calculations upon possible 
questions to be encountered in the class- 

In defense of the system, the authorities 
maintained that the only practicable 
method of preserving a record of individual 
accomplishment was by means of so-called 
marks. These marks were used solely as 
a tangible basis for the final computation 
of each student's general standing ; they 
were never put forward or brought into 
notice in the slightest degree as an incen- 
tive to effort during the four years. 
Furthermore, it was undeniable that an 
able student, working conscientiously, 
without reference to learning a "lesson" 
merely for the day, would be thoroughly 
equipped for recitations, and would count 
for more in every respect than the flimsier 
time-server. The " honors " were conferred 
not as a reward but as an acknowledg- 
ment. There were distinctions of position 
and office for those who excelled in ath- 
letics, executive force, social graces, 
literary accomplishment. Should not an 
institution existing primarily for the 

n8 Vassar Studies 

cultivation of the mind uphold the custom 
of awarding public recognition to those 
who surpassed their companions intellec- 
tually in combined ability and indus- 

During Marion's senior year, the crusade 
against " honors " had culminated in a 
petition requesting the Faculty to refrain 
this spring from creating invidious dis- 
tinctions by means of such an objectionable 
method. Besides unceasing agitation in 
personal conversations, Marion had taken 
a resolute part in every meeting. No 
opposing arguments were heard, and the 
champion of reform spoke with the un- 
shaken courage of her convictions. Her 
speeches harped over and over upon two 
chords : the " Honor System " is not 
scholarly ; the " Honor System " is not just. 
The unscholarly tendency of the system 
to encourage some types of ambitious girls 
to study with an eye on probable per cents, 
she discussed at length but without feeling. 
Her own nature was too utterly without 
sympathy toward such a temptation. The 
charge of injustice inspired far the stronger 

The Career of a Radical 119 

philippics. The " Honor System" is not 
just, in the first place, because it may be 
said to work in the dark. If honors at 
graduation are to depend upon marks, 
then let the marks be made known month 
by month and year by year. Do not keep 
them secret until the "honor list" comes 
out with a flare of publicity, announcing 
that specified girls have maintained their 
college work at a certain grade. The 
" Honor System" is not just, in the second 
place, because it is based on a wrong prin- 
ciple. It is not fair to measure all the 
students by the same standard. It is not 
fair to make no allowance for different 
tastes and specialized talents. If it is 
absolutely necessary for the college to 
thrust such distinctions upon helpless 
seniors, let the acknowledgment of ex- 
cellence be founded upon work in special 
departments. Substitute for the glitter- 
ingly vague and comparatively worthless 
" Honors " the more significant distinctions 
of " Honors in Greek," " Honors in His- 
tory," "Honors in Chemistry," and so forth. 
In its present form, the " Honor System " is 

120 Vassar Studies 

not scholarly ; the " Honor System " is not 

Marion's speeches invariably slipped 
into an exhortation at the close. Let the 
seniors unite in the might and the right 
of their principles, and decline to support 
this " system." Let them, as a class, pro- 
test against the public announcement of 
" honors." Let each one, as an individ- 
ual, pledge herself to refuse to notice or 
acknowledge in any way the possible and 
embarrassing contingency of finding her 
own name included in the list. And fi- 
nally, in a last and most effective assault 
against stubborn authority, let those who 
should chance to be appointed the speak- 
ers for Commencement Day stand to- 
gether in an absolute and irrepealable 
determination to repudiate a distinction 
disgraceful from being based on injustice. 

Marion's hands felt very cool against 
her hot eyes. She was pressing her 
forehead against the window-pane. The 
"honors" had come out to-night, and 
she was. one of those appointed to be 
speakers on Commencement Day. And 

The Career of a Radical 1 2 1 

the other girls ? They had followed 
her but lukewarmly beyond the point of 
protesting against the " system " in that 
petition to the Faculty. Marion was 
thinking of the muffled swelling of joyous 
applause ; of the excited laughter and 
chatter and congratulation ; of the shin- 
ing eyes and happy faces, and the talk of 
telegrams in the messenger room. And 
then she thought of that other face pass- 
ing them at the staircase, with the eyes 
staring straight ahead, with lines set hard 
about the mouth. 

" Live up to the best that is in you, 
daughter, and let the rest go." 

" Remember, Marion, your grandfather 
led his class." 

The window sash flew up with a sud- 
den fling, and Marion leaned out into the 
soft night air, sweet with the breath of 
wild growing things. Almost against her 
will, Marion's thoughts leaped back to her 
childhood : her first success at school 
the headlong scamper for home, the dash 
into the house with " I Ve been pro- 
moted ! I Ve skipped the whole class ! " 

122 Vassar Studies 

and the way her mother had looked as 
she kissed her ; her monthly report 
cards the lagging or the flying step, the 
grieved glance or the smile ; her high- 
school days, the year when she stood 
highest in Latin, the time she won the 
prize for the best essay, her record 
through the course ; her mother's dismay 
over the decision of the school board to 
have a lecture in place of the customary 
exercises by the graduates on Commence- 
ment no essays, no valedictory, no 
salutatory. " Perhaps, Marion," in wist- 
ful disappointment, " at college if we 
can ever get you there 

The window banged down and Marion 
groped her way to the match-box. If it 
were anything but what it was a question 
of principle she would not hesitate for a 
single moment. Of course, she knew 
very well how much of a sacrifice her 
mother had made to enable her, the eld- 
est daughter in a large family, to spend 
four years at college. For all that, what 
right has a woman to inflict her ambitious 
designs upon the individuals who happen 

The Career of a Radical 123 

to be her children? It was absolutely 
imperative for Marion to be true to her- 
self. The spirit of her whole college 
career demanded that she should refuse 
to countenance, in any way, a system 
working injustice and upheld by author- 
ity. It made no difference what the 
other girls did. She was bound by her 
utterances as well as by her principles. 
She owed it to her sense of right, she 
owed it to society, she owed it to herself, 
to decline to support the " Honor System " 
by taking part in the exercises on Com- 
mencement Day. 

Marion had an instant's vision of the 
crowded chapel the gallery thronged 
with girls, downstairs the middle pews 
white with seniors, and then the rows and 
rows of guests, packed from the front to 
the farthest corner, upon the platform 
tiers of alumnae and instructors behind 
the grave ranks of professors and trus- 
tees, and standing up before them all 
somebody in white, and gazing up at her 
from the audience, her mother's face. 

At this point Marion became aware that 

124 Vassar Studies 

her fumbling had revealed only empty 
boxes, and she started out to borrow a 
match next door. In the lighted hall 
a glance at her watch showed both hands 
pointing near ten. She held the case to 
her ear in suspicion that the works had 
stopped running. Reassured by the 
steady ticking, she had passed on and 
tapped at her neighbor's door, before she 
was conscious of a dim knowledge that 
this girl was also on the " honor list," re- 
calling the shining eyes and lips that 
smiled in the centre of the group by the 

As Marion heard no answering " Come," 
she turned the knob mechanically, intend- 
ing to help herself in the free manner of 
their unconventional intercourse. Yes, it 
would certainly be the wisest course not 
even in her letters to allude to reprehen- 
sible college customs. It might prevent 
a great waste of explanation and fruitless 
repining if some one should never hear 
that her daughter had been awarded col- 
lege honors and been appointed one of 
the speakers for Commencement Day. 

The Career of a Radical 125 

From disdainful imagining of a pile of 
telegrams waiting in the messenger 
room, Marion tried to recall the class- 
meetings zealous in indignation against 
the system. She, at least, would stand 
by her principles. With cheeks growing 
hot over the inconsistency of the other 
girls, she began slowly to push open the 
door. Doubtless this very neighbor of 
hers was still standing somewhere with 
smiling lips amid congratulating friends. 

Setting one foot over the threshold, 
Marion stopped short with the knob wa- 
vering in her grasp. Under the faint 
glow of a droplight on the table, a girl 
was crouching with her face hidden on 
her arms. Once or twice her frail shoul- 
ders rose and fell under the dead black 
of her gown in a long, quivering sob. 
Propped against a book before her was 
the tear-stained picture of a woman. 

Marion had closed the door from the 
outside, and was walking swiftly down 
the corridor in the direction of the mes- 
senger room. 



ANNE picked up the blue silk umbrella 
with the ivory handle, and set it in the 

Then, leaving her door ajar, she went 
back to the absorbing occupation of watch- 
ing with her forehead close to the pane 
the exodus of students for the holidays. 
From her window in the north wing of 
the building, she could see the main en- 
trance and a portion of the evergreen- 
lined avenue which led to the lodge. It 
was snowing heavily. Anne told herself 
that she was getting an impression an 
impression in black and white of hurrying 
figures and umbrellas aslant, softened to 
the requisite vagueness of outline by dis- 
tance and the veil of whirling flakes. 

A Case of Incompatibility 127 

Anne's eyes, however, were naturally far- 
sighted, and her window was not so high 
up that she was cut off from a view of 
the great door under the porte-cochere. 
For a genuine impressionist, she scruti- 
nized too keenly the individuals in the 
" stream of humanity," as she chose to 
call the girls trooping out of the entrance. 
Some stood a few minutes, deliberating 
under shelter, carefully raising umbrellas 
and bracing them against the wind, before 
starting out at a dignified pace toward 
the electric cars tinkling impatient bells 
at the lodge gates. Now and then one 
burst from the door, and dived into the 
storm on a blind little run, grasping a 
skirt and holding a dress-suit case in one 
hand, while spasmodically struggling to 
open an umbrella with the other. Oc- 
casionally a hack rolled noiselessly up the 
avenue, with snow clinging to the revolv- 
ing spokes and showering thickly back 
upon the road. 

After a pause, during which the out- 
flow of travellers had almost ceased, the 
door opened gently, and a girl carrying 

128 Vassar Studies 

only a small satchel appeared on the 
threshold. In spite of a certain resolute 
stiffness in the lines of her shoulders and 
poise of her head, she was detected by 
Anne in a shy half glance at the window 
while ostensibly scanning the weather 
signs with face upturned toward the in- 
finity of softly falling flakes. Drawing 
quickly back from the glass with a sug- 
gestion of defiance in the movement, Anne 
stood looking until the other had disap- 
peared behind the evergreens. Then, 
although the girls had begun to sally forth 
again, the impressionist, after drumming 
restlessly on the sill in apparent oblivion 
of the silhouette still before her eyes, ab- 
stractedly picked up a note-book, and 
walked from the room. 

The umbrella, standing in the hall, 
Anne set inside the room with a thump, 
although in propping it against the wall 
her fingers rested upon the handle almost 
caressingly. " Well," she replied to some 
inward voice, " of course, her hat will be 
ruined. But she left this here herself." 

As Anne turned the corner of the trans- 

A Case of Incompatibility 129 

verse on her way to the library, the 
main corridor seemed to lengthen before 
her like a long empty tunnel. To her 
fancy with sudden blankness, the two 
weeks of vacation stretched out into an 
endless procession of flagging hours. All 
at once, life became a desert of useless 
tasks, and the vision of home appeared 
to recede hopelessly into the distance. 
" Well," said Anne again to the inward 
monitor, " she has got to learn the inutility 
and poor taste of gratuitous criticism." 

Outside the library door, when she 
halted mechanically at the bulletin board to 
read over the old notices, she was accosted 
by one of the girls in travelling array. 

" Why, Anne Allee ! what are you 
doing here ? I thought that you always 
spent the holidays with Estelle, and she 
left ten minutes ago." 

Anne turned her head as if her neck 
moved on a screw. " You were mistaken," 
she responded coldly ; then, unbending 
somewhat at the dictate of courtesy, " I 
have decided to remain here to finish a 
special topic." 

i3 Vassar Studies 

" Oh, and run down to New York later, 
I presume. But don't work too hard ; 
you look so awfully tired. Good-bye, and 
a merry Christmas ! Of course, you will 
have a lovely time in New York. When 
you and Estelle are together, you always 
manage to get more fun out of life than 
anybody else. Wish her a happy New 
Year from me. There I must run for 
my car." 

Anne smiled in what she imagined was a 
sarcastic manner, but which was externally 
only a rather unpleasant drawing down 
of the corners of her mouth. Oh, yes, she 
was perfectly willing to wish Estelle every 
happiness except the pleasure of her soci- 
ety. That should be withheld until Estelle 
saw fit to repent of her attitude of gratui- 
tous criticism. Though Anne was not 
altogether clear in her mind concerning the 
exact meaning of "gratuitous criticism," 
it sounded enchantingly right ; and Anne 
was fond of effects. An artistic satis- 
faction in the phrase sustained her in 
moral comfort, until, glancing out as she 
passed a window, she spied the black 

A Case of Incompatibility 131 

figures still trooping forth into the white- 
ness. Smitten with the query of why she 
had lost interest in the scene, she stopped 
short, and with a muttered, " Idiot!" 
walked slowly back to her room to resume 
steadfastly her enjoyment of the view. 

As she stood there, the hurrying individ- 
uals appeared to become mere black 
dots against the white ; they seemed 
to fade and grow smaller, merging into 
the background and leaving only a limit- 
less world of softly falling flakes. Anne 
recalled herself to reality with a mental 
jerk. The spectacle was unquestionably 
glaring for eyes tired from study, and the 
girl blinked a little as she turned away. ' 

The umbrella leaning disconsolately 
against the wall roused recollections of 
Estelle's comment on New York winters. 
No wonder that she could not preserve 
friendship with a girl so hypercritical in 
every respect ; and Anne sat down at 
her desk. On the shelf underneath lay a 
large scrap-book in which she pasted me- 
mentos of college events. " Memory 
Bills " the girls called them, thus escaping 

i3 2 Vassar Studies 

the pedantry of memorabilia. Some day 
it will be pleasant to remember these 
things, they were wont to meditate, in a 
luxury of mourning over the swift flight 
of the present, their college days, named 
by so many the happiest time of life. 

Anne lifted the book to her lap, aim- 
lessly fluttering the leaves clumsy with 
programs, notes, pressed flowers, bits of 
ribbon, blue-prints, and whatever else of 
interest could be fastened to a sheet of pa- 
per even so refractory a souvenir as an 
olive stone and almond-shell glued side by 
side in memory of last Thanksgiving Day. 

Anne's eyes rested on this token dis- 
tastefully. Vividly came the picture of 
the long dining-room brightened out of 
its ordinary monotone of white table- 
cloths by many-colored flowers and fruits 
and shaded candles. Estelle had been 
sitting beside her, absently nibbling an 
olive with the speculative abstraction that 
always characterized her when pursuing 
an idea in oblivion to results. " The 
trouble with you, Anne," she mused aloud, 
" is that you care only for surface emo- 

A Case of Incompatibility 133 

tions. Yes, that is the great flaw you 
are a sentimentalist." 

Anne recalled her own mental shock of 
amazement at such an interpretation. At 
the time she had answered nothing, be- 
cause the president was just then rising 
at the head of the faculty table to read a 
telegram announcing the outcome of the 
football game in New York. During the 
night the criticism rankled in her mind. 
Many times before, Estelle had pondered 
aloud over various traits of character, and 
once in their freshman year she had said, 
half seriously, " I cannot decide whether 
you are really deep, or if it is only your 
manner." With eyes full of laughter Anne 
had replied, " What if you never find 
out ?" It had struck her as the merriest 
of jokes. Now, with her nerves painfully 
on edge from the steady strain of fall 
work after a summer spent too ambi- 
tiously in study, she was in a mood un- 
pleasantly pugnacious and ready to take 
offence. A spark of resentment was 
nursed into smouldering anger as she 
brooded over the gravity of the accusa- 

Vassar Studies 

tion, the fatal defect of superficiality, as 
well as the implied superiority on the part 
of Estelle. She knew that Estelle had 
not spoken maliciously, and of course she 
herself did not object to sincerity ; but 
Estelle ought to learn that she had over- 
stepped the boundaries of friendly for- 
bearance and committed an error in 
infringing upon the personality of an- 
other with gratuitous criticism. 

And so, when unsuspecting Estelle had 
come gaily into her room the next morn- 
ing, Anne, with a little thrill of excite- 
ment conscientiously repressed, hastened 
to cherish a carefully reasonable irritation 
over her friend's lack of ceremony. Catch- 
ing the poise of head, Estelle had ex- 
claimed, " Oh, you are cross ! " and Anne 
had responded, scrupulously polite, " Not 
at all." Then the caller, throwing herself 
upon the couch, while the hostess with an 
effort inwardly glowered at the dents 
given to the freshly puffed-up pillows, be- 
gan, " Oh, dear ! it is such a bother to 
come thirty-five steps every time I want 
to see you. I wish that we had taken 

A Case of Incompatibility 135 

that double room together for our last 
year here. Don't you think it would 
have been pleasanter ? because " and she 
was smiling at Anne " you see we are 
pretty fond of each other." 

There must have been a flinty streak 
in Anne's self-love. She turned deliber- 
ately, saying in tones coldly distinct, " I 
am perfectly satisfied with the existing 

Without looking, she saw the deep red 
flush sweep over the sensitive face, and 
Estelle had gone without a word. 

That had been three weeks ago more 
than three weeks, and they had not spoken 
to each other since, beyond mere conven- 
tionalities at the table where they were 
both elaborately courteous. For the first 
few days, though struggling against a 
tendency toward self-condemnation, Anne 
fully expected that Estelle would under- 
stand how she owed it to herself to display 
a just resentment of gratuitous criticism. 
She did not realize or, more truly, she 
refused to believe that impulsive Estelle 
had not given a second thought to the 

136 Vassar Studies 

frank outspokenness of Thanksgiving Day. 
When at last Anne permitted herself to 
see that wounded affection had roused 
Estelle's pride in all its stubborn strength, 
she set her self-righteousness to work to 
fortify her own position. And Anne was 
skillful in such operations. 

Now the holidays arriving found one of 
the two girls hastening away to the gaieties 
of New York at Christmas time, while the 
other with a splendid spirit of scholarly 
devotion clung to her books in the lonely 

Anne lifted slowly the page bearing the 
olive-stone and almond-shell. The shell 
was the relic of a philopena which she had 
eaten with Estelle. It was to have been 
a give-and-take philopena ; the one who 
should accept anything offered by the other 
would be required to pay the forfeit. 
Anne glanced toward the umbrella ; it 
was always easy to catch Estelle. And 
what fun but recalling her thoughts with 
a portentous frown, Anne turned to her 
book, and tossed it open at the first page. 

At the top appeared an addressed en- 

A Case of Incompatibility 137 

velope, surrounded by blank spaces and 
inscribed underneath, " My first letter." 
As Anne's eyes lingered upon it, she saw 
again the row of girls waiting in the lower 
hall for the mail-window to be opened. 
Everything seemed to take its tone from 
the strip of gray rubber stretching down 
the long corridor. The gloomy light of a 
rainy morning was struggling in through 
narrow windows ; rough low walls, dull 
white, extended in a cheerless vista ; a 
few men, trundling boxes and trunks in 
every direction, wore an air of melancholy 
resignation ; some of the faces in line had 
an effect of homesick dolefulness. Not 
until her letter was handed to her, did 
Anne notice that many girls by no means 
dismal-looking were flying in and out of 
the janitor's office, lugging step-ladders up 
and down the halls, busily unpacking 
trunks outside doors, chattering and laugh- 
ing and falling on each other's necks in a 
way delightful to behold. 

Walking toward the elevator, with eyes 
fastened on the written pages, Anne stum- 
bled against another freshman, who met 

138 Vassar Studies 

her apologies with the cheeriest good will. 
" I know how it is," she said ; " I received 
my first letter yesterday. Is n't this the 
loveliest place, and is n't it queer to see so 
many girls together ? " 

" Yes," responded Anne, gazing sol- 
emnly about her, " it is an impressive 

After staring a moment, the other bent 
her head down, and laughed a long time. 
Estelle said afterward that " impressive 
spectacle " won her heart then and there ; 
and as for Anne herself, she had never be- 
fore discovered how easy it was to say 
funny things, and how pleasant always to 
be appreciated. 

On the same page with the envelope 
was the invitation to the first reception 
for the new students. An important little 
senior had escorted both Anne and Estelle, 
who by this time were sufficiently well ac- 
quainted to be intensely interested in each 
other's tastes and opinions. Estelle had 
disappointed Anne by not caring at all for 
the effect made by the dancing globes of 
the Chinese lanterns which outlined the 

A Case of Incompatibility 139 

sweeping curves of the walk leading to 
the brilliantly lighted hall. She would 
not even admit the peculiarly collegiate 
beauty of eating an ice upon a Japanese 
divan covered with a Bagdad under a 
cluster of palms, with " Demosthenes" in 
plaster, life size, frowning before her, 
while the " Dying Gaul " agonized on one 
side and the " Laocoon " writhed on the 
other. Anne had been fascinated by the 
play of color, light, and movement, by the 
fresh curves and tints and expressions of 
pretty girls, whereas Estelle preferred to 
study the people who looked as if they 
had " lived." Once during the evening, 
the two girls made their way through the 
thronged art gallery into the museum, 
and up-stairs to a balcony where Anne had 
discovered some mummies. In delightful 
horror gazing at the shrunken skeletons, 
she tried to work herself into an emo- 
tional realization of death. Her compan- 
ion expostulated. " Save your feelings 
for real experiences. Sorrows will sink 
deep enough without spading up a soft 
spot for them." 

140 Vassar Studies 

Anne turned the leaf quickly. Even so 
early in their acquaintanceship Estelle had 
begun to assume a censorious attitude. 
And yet how pleasant the years had 
been ! As she looked back, it seemed as 
if they two together had gone laughing, 
like joyous children, through the gliding 
days of busy college life. One night, while 
they were chattering light-heartedly as they 
climbed the stairs to their rooms, one of 
the other students a woman who had 
reached the seriousness of maturity- 
passed them with a half-wistful, " You 
two always look as happy as daylight." 

Estelle, sobering, spoke to Anne : " I 
never laugh all the way through, do you ? " 
adding after a minute, " But perhaps we 
ought to skip and laugh while we feel that 
way, for we sha'n't feel that way long." 

Anne let the book fall shut in her lap 
while she leaned back to think. There 
had always been that undertone of melan- 
choly in Estelle's temperament ; and many 
a refreshing dispute had they enjoyed con- 
cerning Anne's tendency to blink the sad- 
ness of facts. Anne remembered that 

A Case of Incompatibility 141 

Estelle had called her cheerful views the 
result of a shallow optimism. Ah, well, 
they had never agreed upon any point 
capable of discussion. The daily history 
of their comradeship had all along prefig- 
ured a parting of the ways. A certain 
day had been especially significant ; Anne 
sighed, recollecting. Off for a ramble on 
a May afternoon, over the fields, around 
a meadow, through a grove with red par- 
tridge berries underfoot and flowering 
trees above. Estelle, sitting on the moss, 
ate berries, while Anne scrambled over 
the rocks after wild columbine. When 
they strolled on, Estelle halted at a stone 
wall to announce that, as she was tired of 
wading across plowed fields and tearing 
through bushes, she did not intend to go 
any farther. Anne, moving forward, said 
that she did not intend to go back so 
soon. Laughing a good-bye, each had 
gone her separate way. 

Anne got up from the chair, letting the 
book slide to the floor, where it lay for- 
lornly with one leaf doubled over, and a 
program pencil dangling from an edge. 

142 Vassar Studies 

Only last Sunday that disagreeable Miss 
Greene had said at dinner that she was 
rejoiced to notice a less exclusive intimacy 
between Anne and Estelle ; such monopo- 
lies were beneficial neither for the girls 
themselves nor for the college. Anne 
had responded sweetly that she was will- 
ing to make any sacrifice in order to please 
Miss Greene. Estelle, looking white when 
Anne spoke, stole a glance at her studiedly 
expressionless face ; Anne had just caught 
herself back from smiling at her. 

Picking up a brush at the sound of the 
luncheon bell, Anne stared into the mirror. 
She did not care. She was having a much 
better time than Estelle. Yesterday she 
had watched Estelle out walking alone, 
and she knew from the languid way she 
stepped, in spite of the attempt at vivacious 
interest with which she followed the flight 
of a bird and examined an empty nest un- 
der a pine, that she was trying hard to 
pretend to be happy. Estelle was so de- 
pendent upon other people for enjoy- 
ment ! She herself did not mind solitude 
in the least ; in fact, she preferred to spend 

A Case of Incompatibility 143 

the holidays at college in the welcome 
pleasure of her own uncritical society. 

At luncheon the girls there were forty 
or fifty remaining through the vacation- 
appeared irritatingly commonplace, as 
though all the pretty and attractive 
students, whose homes were too far away 
to render the trip expedient, had been 
invited to visit their more fortunate friends. 
Anne thought the table fare particularly 
tasteless : the oyster stew was cold and the 
beef was too well done. A sturdy little 
sophomore, sitting opposite, ate so cheer- 
fully and so much that Anne longed 
fiercely to proclaim that, the shorter our 
descent from peasant ancestry, the more 
we eat. When some one said that Anne 
looked homesick, and some one else 
volunteered, smiling, that Estelle was 
away, Anne decided not to wait for choco- 
late, but to begin work on her special 
topic at once. 

Somehow, after she had settled herself 
in the deserted library, with books spread 
open and fountain-pen shaken into a favor- 
able condition, she could not concentrate 

144 Vassar Studies 

her attention on the subject. When she 
found herself reading the same page for 
the fourth time, she resolved to rest for 
three days and begin with fresh zest on 

As soon as she was in her own room 
and it seemed unusually far away she 
seated herself at some mending. She had 
once heard the statement that a bit of 
sewing is tranquillizing for nerves worn by 
mental work or worry. Anne lost faith in 
the speaker. An overwhelming restless- 
ness to escape from the monotonous brick 
walls urged to action as a safety valve. 
As a glance out-of-doors gave no hope 
of open-air exercise that afternoon, she 
determined to put her wardrobe shelves in 
order. By the time she had piled all her 
gowns on the couch, tossed a dozen paste- 
board boxes into a corner, and arrayed her 
boots and shoes on the bureau, she felt 
more resigned to the prospect of walking 
down the long corridors when the gong 
should strike for dinner. 

Upon sitting down to rest, she noticed 
that her skirt was covered with dust, and 

A Case of Incompatibility H5 

she remembered that the last time she had 
held a house-cleaning Estelle had lent her 
a white apron. Estelle herself always 
looked so sweet and domestic in a white 
apron ; she was winning and womanly, too, 
and undoubtedly she would marry some 
day. Of course, then she would be mo- 
nopolized, narrowing down her interests to 
the family circle. There was a possibility 
of narrowness in her character. For in- 
stance, in her manner of studying, she was 
bound so exclusively to details that she 
failed to appreciate Anne's broad grasp of 
the subject in hand. When they used to 
translate together, Anne always skimmed 
ahead through the sight reading, while 
Estelle plodded on behind, wrestling with 
the difficult constructions. Estelle said 
that Anne was not thorough. At this 
point in her retrospection, happening to 
raise her eyes, Anne spied her own face 
rather grim in the mirror. She said aloud, 
" I think you are horrid ! " and then she 
threw herself down among all the gowns, 
and covered her face with her best hat, 
and cried. 

146 Vassar Studies 

Saturday, snubbing all overtures of com- 
panionship, Anne conscientiously divided 
her time between roaming through the 
cleared paths, and reading a novel recom- 
mended by an enthusiastic freshman as 
good to distract the thoughts. On Sun- 
day she gathered with the dozen other 
seniors stranded for the holidays to open 
the Christmas parcels which had arrived 
the day before. Upon hearing that scar- 
let fever was prevailing in town, she made 
it a matter of principle to walk in the two 
miles to church. The musical part of the 
program she found far less effective than 
usual to soothe her into dreamy enjoy- 
ment ; the sermon she considered pe- 
culiarly inappropriate to her mood. Never 
since they first met had she and Estelle 
lived through such a peaceful month no 
disputing, no contradicting, no ferocious 
epithets simply politeness. 

On Monday Anne plunged into work 
with an intensity that brought her up 
short by Saturday night, and landed her 
in the infirmary with a furious headache 
and quivering nerves. In the morning, 

A Case of Incompatibility 147 

as she lay listlessly contemplating the sun- 
shine which streamed in upon a jar of 
flowers, she was fancying herself in the 
rdle of a martyr. Feeling rather vague 
concerning the grounds of her prospective 
martyrdom, she decided to call it princi- 
ple. Week after week she would be lying 
there ill perhaps dying while the bells 
would be muffled throughout the building, 
and carpets would be laid in the corridors, 
and the girls would move about on tiptoe, 
whispering to each other praises of her 
character and ability and and heroism 
in upholding principle the principle of 
self-respect and church attendance and 
such things, and then Estelle would be 
sorry. As Anne did not feel eager to go 
into details with regard to the reasons for 
this grand remorse on Estelle's part, she 
was relieved to see the physician enter. 

In a few minutes the program of the 
week had been drawn out one day like 
another, breakfast rather tasteless, study 
absorbing every faculty until the gong 
summoned her dazed to a hurried luncheon 
among girls who aroused an uncomfort- 

148 Vassar Studies 

able sensation of antagonism, then a soli- 
tary saunter for a scant hour, and reading 
until dinner-time found her without the 
energy or interest to change her gown. 
In the evening she tempered her with- 
drawal from society by spending some 
time in the senior parlor, silent over a 
book in a corner, while the other girls 
were chattering and sewing and playing 
whist around her. Then, conquering a 
nervous dread of dusky alcoves and re- 
cesses, she started, coldly unapproachable, 
on the lonely journey through the long 
empty corridors to her empty room. 

The doctor surveyed the girl thought- 
fully ; she often knew more than appeared. 
There crept over Anne a sensation of rest- 
fulness from contact with a wholesome 
personality ; into her eyes stole an expres- 
sion of beseeching of supplication for 
help against her own self-will. 

" What you need," announced the phy- 
sician, " is rest and a complete change. I 
know that some of you girls think that 
vacations are given for the sole purpose 
of enabling you to do special topics. But 

A Case of Incompatibility 149 

they are n't. You hate the looks of the 
brick walls, don't you ? and you have for- 
gotten how to hurry when the gong strikes 
for breakfast. You can't stay here this 
week. Where shall you go ? " 

A light sprang into Anne's face. She 
spoke tentatively : " I have cousins in Al- 

" That will do." 

Anne looked disappointed. " Is n't Al- 
bany almost as quiet as it is here ? " 

" A change of scene will do you good." 

" Don't you think," the girl swallowed 
something in her throat, " that New York 
would be more of a change ? " 

The doctor's keen look lost its edge in 
its personal interest. Anne's fingers were 
twisting in and out around the slender 
brass bars of the bedstead. " I should n't 
wonder if New York would be better. 
By the way, has your friend decided yet 
whether or not she will return to college 
after the holidays ? " 

"Not return to college ! " gasped Anne, 
springing erect and staring with dilated 
pupils, while through her mind flashed a 

150 Vassar Studies 

vision of doors flung tauntingly open and 
rooms desolate in their emptiness. 

With a touch that was gentle in spite 
of its firmness, the doctor pushed her 
back on the pillow. "There was some 
talk of passing the remainder of the winter 
in Florida. You know that she is a deli- 
cate girl." 

Anne had turned her face to the wall. 
The minutes went creeping by one after 
the other. The doctor had risen. " And 
so you will go to New York ? " 

She bent to listen. " Maybe I will go 
down" the voice caught "to to to 
see the opera." 

Tuesday morning in the Grand Central 
Station a young girl was re-reading a yel- 
low strip of paper : " Have decided to 
take the 8.45 to-morrow. Will bring 
umbrella. Anne." 

A train was sliding in under the arch 
of roof. One of the passengers, stepping 
quickly, held out a blue silk umbrella, 
with a look square into eyes. The out- 
stretched hands received it. 

A Case of Incompatibility 151 

Anne heard her own laugh with a gay 
little ring in it: " Oh, you goosey, philo- 
pena ! " 

The other was smiling back into her 
face. " Idiot ! you have forgotten to 
wear rubbers." 

And Anne did not mind the criticism 
at all. 


IT was the evening before Field Day. 
After Chapel, having dropped into her own 
room and lighted the gas to find a par- 
ticular notebook, Mildred had bethought 
herself of exploring the window-seat for 
the long streamers of class colors to be 
used the following morning in waving 
classmates on to victory. Upon lifting 
the upholstered cover, she discovered the 
ribbons carefully spread out just above a 
fluffy mass of scarlet tarlatan. 

Elise must have put them there in readi- 
ness, thought Mildred, letting her hand 
rest one caressing moment upon the airy 
tarlatan as she raised the generous loops 
of satin. The little sister had been par- 
ticular to buy ribbon that was all silk. 

For the Honor of the Class 153 

" Class colors ought to represent the class 
worthily," she had explained to Mildred, 
when that young woman had made a long 
face over the price. The sight of the 
butterfly skirt recalled to Mildred the 
Trig Ceremonies of their sophomore year. 
She saw again the thronging faces in Phil. 
Hall, and upon the tiny stage the eight 
fair-haired little sophomores in the witch- 
ery of a fairy dance. After the last scene, 
when the curtain had been drawn up for 
air, Mildred's special fairy had come skip- 
ping happily across to the footlights to 
throw her arms about the tall sister in ex- 
cited blissfulness. " Oh, do you think it 
was good ? Do you really ? And are the 
Ceremonies a credit to the class ? " 

Elise's enthusiasm for the credit of the 
class had been an influential factor in her 
college career a factor which often took 


the form of censorship over the conduct 
of the older sister. Mildred must not 
whisper in the library, or be tardy for din- 
ner, or "out" late at night, because such 
misdemeanors, if habitual, might reflect 
upon the reputation of the class. She was 

154 Vassar Studies 

always hurried back to college promptly 
after vacations, for punctuality was on 
Elise's list of cardinal virtues for both in- 
dividual and organization. When Mildred 
belonged to sections comprising members 
from different classes, she was pushed on 
to study with increased application in or- 
der to shine among the representatives of 
the four divisions of students. Before 
" punging " was abolished in accordance 
with courteous request, Elise had suc- 
ceeded in persuading Mildred that beg- 
ging for rides on wood sleds over country 
roads was unbecoming to a dignified senior, 
even if everybody did it. 

Mildred leaned on the sill, drawing deep 
breaths of the cool twilight air fragrant of 
loitering through May woods and playing 
with drifting apple blossoms. From the 
evergreens rose a murmur of sleepy twitter- 
ing, now and then swelling into the full 
sweet thrill of the robin's evening call. 
The breath of lilacs wafted from the gar- 
dens suggested to Mildred her sister's 
zeal for their junior party the year before. 
The juniors and seniors had gathered in 

For the Honor of the Class 155 

the Circle, where the thickening dusk was 
beginning to shut off all except a few sur- 
rounding faces on the near benches. 
Against the heavier blackness of the 
hedge appeared the twinkle of a small 
candle and moving shadows. A rustling 
of gowns over the grass, low-toned orders, 
once a bang of something falling and a 
stifled cry of dismay, then a last flicker 
of the candle flame gleaming on- a face 
pursed to blow, and darkness. Suddenly 
a radiance of light turned full upon one 
spot, and there, riding on the glowing 
sickle of a great moon, a white-robed 
maiden with fair hair floating loose and 
the rapt uplifted face of a beautiful spirit. 
Later, when the festoons of Chinese lan- 
terns were illuminating the lawn, Mildred, 
while serving ice-cream and strawberries 
from one of the rustic pavilions, overheard 
an instructor saying, " It is the most 
charming junior party in years." Feeling 
some one seize her arm and squeeze it, 
she looked around into Elise's shining 
eyes. " Our class," in an exultant whis- 
per " it is our class that is giving it !" 

156 Vassar Studies 

Mildred gave a last lingering little pat 
to the mass of fluffy scarlet, and closing 
the lid upon it walked slowly out of the 
room. She did not notice how the trans- 
parent curtains were fluttering and flap- 
ping almost horizontally when the opened 
door caused a draught ; she did not see 
how dangerously near the fringed edges 
blew to the wavering gas flame. She was 
marvelling in her slow way over Elise's 
capacity for caring for trivial successes. 
In the last public debate between the 
juniors and seniors, while awaiting the 
decision of the judges, Mildred had been 
terrified by her sister's pallor only her 
eyes blazing with a dry light in the per- 
fectly still face. During crucial innings in 
the inter-class basket-ball games, Mildred 
had sometimes turned an anxious, half- 
wondering gaze upon Elise swaying back- 
ward and forward in the helpless suspense 
of a spectator, with her teeth clenched 
upon her lower lip and her hands pinching 
each other convulsively. They were very 
beautiful hands. 

Mildred's pace as she moved through 

For the Honor of the Class 157 

the corridor suggested a smothered worry. 
When she had pleaded with Elise not to 
enter the lists for so many Field Day 
events, she had been asked in reproachful 
amazement who among the seniors had 
any chance for winning the short dash, 
the running jumps, and the hurdle race, 
if their lightest and most agile champion 
failed them. In spite of this unanswer- 
able argument, the older sister had har- 
bored fleeting thoughts of enforcing the 
authority of her rarely roused will, as 
she fancied the possible evils of over- 

It was therefore a guardian-like scrutiny 
half sisterly criticism, half pride, and 
wholly protective with which she sur- 
veyed the group revealed by a certain 
door swinging open at her touch. To 
her the five or six seniors in positions 
varying from ease to formal dignity 
seemed to be clustered about Elise as a 
centre. In her white dressing sacque with 
laces falling away from her soft throat and 
drooping over the beautiful hands, Elise 
looked like a lily. She was lounging 

158 Vassar Studies 

among pillows in a posture which would 
have been ungraceful in a girl less daintily 
perfect in line and molding. Some one 
had once said that Elise was exquisite 
enough to be the only child of her parents. 
To Mildred, larger and stronger in every 
way, with longer limbs and looser joints 
and more robust bloom, the little sister 
had always appeared as fragile as a pre- 
cious bit of porcelain. With an exulta- 
tion almost maternal, she delighted in 
each faultless detail, while she could not 
help being tormented by any needless 
blemish. She had taught Elise to sew 
without pricking her forefinger, to row 
without making callous spots on her palm, 
and even to use a fountain pen without 
spreading ink over the back of her hand. 
As Mildred entered, one of the girls 
was saying it happened to be the tall 
senior who was thrower-in on their basket- 
ball team and also the best vaulter " After 
to-morrow I shall begin to make up for the 
desserts I have missed. Think of all the 
ice-cream and chocolate cake before me ! 
Girls ! I shall eat sugar on everything. 

For the Honor of the Class 159 

And please won't some of you collect a 
purse, and send me a box of Huyler's?" 

" Poor dear ! " murmured a voice, " and 
all because of one little piece of rose and 
gray silk." 

" We will write an addendum to Fox's 
Book of Martyrs, and put our champions 
in it," suggested another. 

" You shall have all the maple syrup 
you can eat on your waffles to-morrow 
evening," came consolingly from a third. 

" Have you ordered that supper al- 
ready?" exclaimed Mildred; "but sup- 
pose that we do not win enough points to 
carry off the banner ? " 

"In that case, there will be double need 
of waffles." 

"And syrup," drawled the martyr, 
" with oceans of butter." 

Elise's wild-rose face had suddenly grown 
more human in a pained frown. " How 
can we miss winning ? We have held the 
championship banner every year since we 
entered, and we are the most athletic 
class in college. The other classes have 
not yet produced any remarkable chain- 

160 Vassar Studies 

pion except in golf, and we have the best 
vaulter and the second-best pitcher of 
the base-ball and " 

Another took her up : " And the best 
little hurdle - jumper and sprinter, and 
maybe you will win in the running jumps, 
and our basket-ball team cannot be 

" I only hope it won't rain," piped up 
melancholy tones. 

" Don't talk about 'fatal contingencies. 
Who knows what hostile fates may be 
waiting around for hints?" 

A second foreboding mind found speech: 
" I feel superstitious. It seems as if we 
were too confident. What if something 
should happen ? " 

Mildred, who was sitting so that her sis- 
ter fell just within range of vision, spoke 
lazily: " There might be an earthquake, or 
a military invasion 

" From West Point ? " with a laugh ; 
" that would be effectual." 

" Number of guests strictly limited," 
put in some one else. 

Mildred had turned her head quickly 

For the Honor of the Class 161 

toward her sister. Elise was erect with 
her chin tilted forward while she drew 
short, swift breaths. " I smell fire ! " 

Mildred was on her feet and in the hall, 
while the others following scattered here 
and there, sniffing the air with eyes on 
transoms. The corridor stretched out in 
deserted peacefulness. From the chapel 
the tinkle of a far-away piano had given 
place to a round of muffled applause. A 
maid in white cap and apron, who had 
been pausing by the main staircase, had 
begun to move out of sight. Elise, poised 
doubtfully at the transverse, caught a 
stronger whiff of something scorching, 
snatched the direction, and ran fleetly after 
Mildred, who was disappearing around 
the corner of an alley-way. Hurrying af- 
ter the sisters, the other girls beheld an 
open door, a gas-jet flaring in the draught 
from a window, and a blaze of filmy cur- 
tains swaying to and fro, while the window- 
seat smouldered. 

Mildred was tearing down the curtains, 
another sprang for the water pitcher, and 
a third seized a rug. A minute's flurry, 

1 62 Vassar Studies 

and only charred edges were seen, stripped 
of the glowing border. Smoke still floated 
up, however, and the window-seat, opened, 
disclosed burning clothing. 

" Hold on !" coolly, "don't spoil every- 
thing with water," and Mildred was prepar- 
ing gingerly to separate the top garments 
from those yet uninjured. Excitable 
Elise, darting toward the box with a little 
cry, pushed her sister aside, and grasped 
the airy mass of tarlatan. Fanned by the 
motion, the smoking stuff broke into a 
blaze. For one stupefied moment Mildred 
watched the flame lick the drooping lace 
of the sleeve, and curl around the tender 
wrist. Then Elise was holding her arms 
out stiffly with water dripping from every 
stitch down upon a draggled heap of red 
on the floor. 

" We had intended to sell those Trig 
Ceremony suits at the senior auction for 
the benefit of the class supper," she ex- 
plained with a disappointed sigh. 

Mildred gently lifted Elise's right hand, 
and turned it toward the light. A strag- 
gling mark from the delicate wrist to the 

For the Honor of the Class 163 

dimpled knuckles was already beginning 
to glow an angry red. " Hurry ! Hurry ! " 
Mildred was fairly dragging her out of the 
room. " Quick ! The doctor will keep it 
from leaving a scar." 

Somewhat later, when Mildred returned 
to her room alone, she found the girls 
waiting for her. " The doctor thinks it 
best for her to remain in the infirmary a 
few days, so that the burn may receive 
proper attention and be free from the 
danger of bruising." Mildred looked 
sternly resolute ; no one suspected that a 
despairing voice was insistently ringing 
in her ears : " But Field Day, Mildred ?" 

The next morning, when Mildred, who 
had secured the privilege of an early visit 
to the infirmary, was passing through the 
waiting-room on her way out, she came 
upon the best senior vaulter being as- 
sisted into the office. A dismayed smile 
greeted a despairing one. " Twisted my 
ankle," was the laconic comment ; " late to 
breakfast, of course, and in a hurry." 

" It is all up with us now," added the 
friend who was serving as a crutch to her 

1 64 Vassar Studies 

limping steps ; " with two of our leading 
stars eclipsed, we can never win enough 
points to carry off the banner this year." 

Mildred stared after them a minute. 
Then, as the physician had been called 
away for the day, she contented herself by 
saying something apparently impressive to 
the head nurse, who nodded understand- 
ingly, "We '11 keep her safe enough." It 
did not occur to Mildred as suggestive 
that Elise was in the infirmary annex, 
and the annex had a window opening 
upon the corridor. Furthermore, the 
senior who had just passed her escorting 
the disabled vaulter had never displayed 
any trace of feminine vanity not even 
with regard to other girls' faces and 

It was almost ten o'clock when Mildred 
came hurrying through the arch in the 
yew hedge which shut in the Circle on one 
side. She had barely time to notice that 
the scattered groups of girls and guests 
were drifting over the lawn toward the 
rows of benches along the race-track, 
while from the mattresses stretched under 

For the Honor of the Class 165 

the elm half a dozen of the competitors 
had risen, throwing off shawls and capes 
and standing forth clad in dark blue ath- 
letic costume, when a messenger girl has- 
tened toward her with news that a guest 
was awaiting her in the college parlors. 
There was nothing for her to do, amazed, 
wondering, and impatient, but to respond 
as quickly as possible to the call, leaving 
the time-keeper about to start the events 
with the one-hundred-yard dash. 

She walked away so rapidly that she 
failed to perceive a newcomer, looking far 
more dainty than a French doll, in a gym- 
nasium suit with a broad sailor collar and 
a kilted skirt that actually produced an 
effect of style, who was peering cautiously 
around the corner of the hedge, as Mildred 

In the college parlors she found an 
alert-looking young man, who begged par- 
don for troubling her personally, stating 
in excuse that he had come out to report 
Field Day for a certain illustrated daily, 
and that two young ladies, whom he had 
met at the door, had informed him that 

i6'6 Vassar Studies 

Miss Mildred Coutant was the proper of- 
ficial to assist him. 

After the first flush of displeasure, Mil- 
dred felt a thrill of self-confident relief that 
it was she who chanced to be confronted 
by this emergency. She knew herself 
equal to the occasion. The list of guests 
for Field Day was limited in more respects 
than mere length. Not until after the 
judicious expenditure of fifteen minutes 
of diplomacy did she succeed in persuad- 
ing him that the lake was well worth a 
visit preliminary to every other scene 
eligible to him. She even took particular 
pains to accompany him to the very 
front door, and see him started in the 
opposite direction to that in which lay 
the Circle. At the last he hesitated, 
turning his face wistfully and suspi- 
ciously toward the quarter from which 
sounded a burst of soprano cheering. 
" They must be really beginning," he 
almost pleaded. 

" The girls are so devoted to exercise," 
she assured him, " even needless exercise 
of the lungs. And indeed you should not 

For the Honor of the Class 167 

overlook boating. It is one of the features 
of life at Vassar." 

"The athletic side? I see"- perhaps 
he was too scrupulous to make other than 
a mental note " crews, I presume, and 
races, and so forth. Do they have a 
special costume?" 

" When the girls are in the boats, they 
do wear a sort of costume," with a flicker 
of a smile at thought of the universal 
shirt-waist and sailor hat. 

After Mildred had fairly despatched the 
reporter in the direction desirable accord- 
ing to her convictions, she hastened to ar- 
range that one of the professors should be 
ready to intercept him on his return from 
the lake. She herself almost ran out to 
the Circle in regret over having lost so 
much, and in suspense concerning the 
meaning of the obtrusive applause. With- 
out noting the fact, she saw a face at the 
archway disappear as she came in sight. 
When she entered the Circle, she was just 
too late to catch a glimpse of one of the 
guests vanishing in matronly haste around 
the far corner of the hedge, 

1 68 Vassar Studies 

The vaulting was going on. Mildred 
watched it a few sober minutes while her 
thoughts were straying to the infirmary 
where she had helped to strand the hope 
of senior success. Presently one of the 
athletic representatives of her class rose 
from beside some one unrecognizable un- 
der a voluminous cape, and moved toward 
Mildred. " Mildred, I am sure that my 
mother is in the college parlors. Would 
you mind going to bring her out here ? 
You are the only one of the girls whom 
she met last week." 

Politely eager, Mildred went at once, 
with only one swift glance toward the 
shade of the hedge where the gardener 
stood leaning on his rake beside the space 
smoothed off for the running jumps. Even 
when she heard the solicitous daughter 
call after her, " By the way, we have won 
the short dash," she did not spare time to 
inquire, " Who ? How long ? " 

Unhappily for her hope of speedy re- 
turn, however, the guest proved to be in- 
tractably desirous of inspecting the senior 
parlor before going out to the Circle. " I 

For the Honor of the Class 169 

hear that you have a genuine Corot," she 
explained with the stately sweetness of 
one accustomed to deference. 

" It has been there all the year," sug- 
gested Mildred, trying to smile playfully 
while clinging to the resolve to dissuade 
this wilful lover of art. 

A moment's hesitation imperceptible be- 
neath serenity sprang from an inclination 
to yield the factitious point, but instruc- 
tions had been explicit. " Your parlor is 
not very far away, is it ? And there is 
something else which my daughter has of- 
ten mentioned. It is the chair which once 
belonged to the author of the ' Star- 
Spangled Banner.' I am told it is such 
a courteous chair that, when any one be- 
gins to sit down in it, it bends forward, 
and bows, before settling back solidly with 
a little bang." 

Though Mildred may have been influ- 
enced by such an example of obliging be- 
havior, she was more acutely conscious of 
being swayed by expediency : the more 
promptly she acceded to the request, the 
sooner she would be at liberty. The two 

1 70 Vassar Studies 

were already on their way to the apart- 
ment containing the specified curiosities. 
Nevertheless, in spite of suavely nervous 
efforts to quicken steps and shorten com- 
ments, when they reached the Circle at 
last, the running jumps were over. 

The spectators were forming in a long 
rectangle near the centre of the lawn. A 
girl in athletic costume, with dark curls 
tied back, was grasping a big leather ball 
in the curve of her arm, her face set in 
the stern resolve to do her best, while two 
others, cool in white duck, stood ready 
with a measuring tape. 

Mildred watched the ball career clumsily 
through the air ; she was trying to forget 
how much Elise would have enjoyed this 
last of their college Field Days. 

When the onlookers had surged forward 
to see where the ball had fallen, Mildred 
slipped out of the throng, and hurried to 
ask the score of a group of seniors under 
the elm. The friend whom she accosted, 
giving her a keen glance, said something 
about writing the names plainer, and be- 
gan to fumble with her stubby pencil. 

From the other side of the trunk crept 
an unheeded sentence : " Too bad to send 
her away again, but will she really rattle 
you ? We need just that point to make 

A girl near, bursting forth into a vi- 
vacious description of the fire the evening 
before, impressed Mildred into service by 
appealing to her for confirmation of state- 
ments. In toning down the dramatic 
lights of the narrative, Mildred was too 


much occupied to insist upon seeing the 
score at once. She had accepted the 
opinion that the senior class had lost all 
chance to win the championship banner. 

The hurdle race was about to begin. 
The hurdles, newly planed that spring, 
looked freshly yellow above the green 
grass as they barred the long straight 
course stretching across the Circle. On 
the side toward the elm was the small 
group of blue-suited girls upon whom at- 
tention had been focussed all the sweet 
spring morning. On the opposite side, 
pressing up to the rope extended along 
the track, was the line of eager faces, not 

172 Vassar Studies 

calmed as were the others by responsibil- 
ity, but mobile under the sway of emotions 
springing from contemplation of endeavor 
out of their control. Far away at the be- 
ginning of the course, the starter was 
practising vainly at making her pistol go 
off whenever she should snap the trigger. 
Three competitors were idly watching her, 
while awaiting the time for the real call 
to effort. 

Laggingly some one else was detaching 
herself from a group on a mattress, and 
walking slowly to the beginning of the 
course. Mildred glanced at her carelessly, 
then with interest. There was a hint of 
familiarity in the motion of the small fig- 
ure concealed from head to foot under the 
strange cape. " Who ? " commenced 
Mildred with bent brows. Just then one 
of Elise's special friends came running up. 
" Oh, Mildred, Elise wishes that you would 
go to the infirmary right away ! " 

The habit of joyful assent to her sister's 
harmless requests started Mildred hastily 
in the direction of the college. Once out- 
side the hedge and hurrying away from 

For the Honor of the Class 1 73 

the lively scene, she felt herself stopped 
by an impulse a longing to behold this 
last Field Day race in which Elise could 
have come in so easily first. Elise's mes- 
sage had not spoken of requiring instant 
response, and why, of course, she would 
inquire at first sight which class had won 
the banner. 

Mildred had barely entered again 
through the archway of yew when the 
starter's pistol popped its small signal, 
and she spied far away at the beginning 
of the track not three but four figures 
spring forth from position. Running across 
the lawn, Mildred pressed close to the 
rope. One of the racers had already fallen 
out, having stumbled and failed to recover 
promptly. One was jumping recklessly, 
sometimes catching her foot and displac- 
ing a cross-bar, and momently being left 
farther in the rear. A third, though al- 
most on a line with the leader, was taking 
the hurdles heavily in awkward bounds 
that threatened rapid exhaustion. Mil- 
dred's fascinated eyes clung to the leader 
a dainty little creature speeding swiftly 

174 Vassar Studies 

toward her, seeming to skim the bars as 
lightly as a bird. 

Something magnetic in the gaze must 
have drawn a flashing glance from Elise 
as she was darting fleetly past. An in- 
stant's pause, almost a stumbling, a falter- 
ing leap, with a foot tripping, and the blow 
of a bandaged hand against a cross-bar. 
Mildred sprang forward, dragging the 
rope, but Elise was out of reach in bird- 
like flight to victory. 

Mildred found her the centre of a glee- 
ful cluster at the finish. There was a 
sharp-breathed " Elise ? " 

Elise looked up with a saucy smile, 
though there was a curious stiffness about 
the corners of her mouth. " Don't you 
wish you knew ? " and she put her hands 
behind her. 

From the thronging group of seniors 
where the banner waved rose a joyous 
shouting, and ribbons and pennons flut- 
tered out, wildly brandished. Elise danced 
up and down. " Hurrah rah rah ! 
They 're cheering for our class ! " Then 
she leaned against Mildred, looking white. 


" IT is the saddest thing ! " 


" The way our old institution keeps on 
year after year swallowing up superior 
young women, and grinding out average 

" But, Rachel " 

" There, look ! That is one of them 
about to be swallowed up. She is an ex- 
traordinarily perfect specimen." 

Following my companion's glance, I no- 
ticed a tall young woman walking erectly 
toward the baggage-room. The very out- 
lines of her alert figure in its tailor-made 
gown, with an irreproachable Knox sailor 
set squarely upon an inflexibly upright 
head, produced an effect of absolute self- 

176 Vassar Studies 

confidence. Even her elbows were held 
at a self-assertive angle. 

" I know what is before her," sighed 
Rachel in whimsical sympathy, as she 
hastened in the same direction to discover 
if our luggage had arrived, while I sought 
an expressman on the platform bustling 
with travel of the opening college year. 

On our way up the river, other return- 
ing students had been on the train with 
us ; and that meant preliminary joyous- 
ness of nods and smiles, eager greetings, 
and chats side by side, with the words 
tumbling over each other in the hurry to 
recover lost vacation time. Trooping 
from the cars at the station, with a sub- 
consciousness of condescension toward the 
other passengers bound on insignificant 
journeys to unimportant places, we found 
the platform gay with possibilities of meet- 
ings. Everywhere college girls, trim and 
business-like, identifying baggage, giving 
orders to expressmen, or clustering in 
groups for a word or two, while eyes 
shone, and satchels swung from right to 
left for a hand-clasp. 

A Superior Young Woman 17? 

Out from the waiting-room, where a 
dozen or so travellers not college girls 
kept their places meekly against the 
wall, thronging into a trolley-car, we sat 
there in two long lines, ready to smile one 
to another. Here and there, a strange 
face, sober at the newness of it, stared 
watchfully, perhaps with a hint of wistful- 
ness, at the sunny chatterboxes so envia- 
bly initiated. 

A whisper from Rachel was at my ear : 
" The Superior Girl is almost haughty 
enough to be shy." 

Taking the hint given by a flutter of 
eyelids, I looked across the aisle directly 
into a pair of gray eyes gazing level under 
straight brows with calm impersonal inter- 
est in the caught whisper. Inevitably 
equal to emergencies, Rachel gave her a 
frank smile expressive of boundless kind- 
liness. The girl seemed to stiffen, and, 
barely acknowledging the gracious patron- 
age, hastily changed the direction of her 
glances, just as a preparatory rustle swept 
through the car at sight of the long hedge 
backed by familiar evergreens. 

178 Vassar Studies 

Sliding along swiftly under the row of 
maples, the car came to a stop at the 
Lodge gates. Then a slow crowding-out, 
and dribbling off in twos and threes up 
the straight length of evergreen-bordered 
avenue to the great building beautiful 
in the crimson and scarlet of its wood- 

As we entered the Main, Rachel, touch- 
ing my shoulder, nodded toward the broad 
marble staircase. The^ Superior Girl, ap- 
parently disdaining to follow us into the 
gloom of the lower corridor, was mounting 
the steps in solitary state. " I am afraid 
that she knows it all," murmured my com- 
panion sadly. And then, with an ecstatic 
little series of shriek-and-run-and-hug-and- 
kiss, half a dozen previous arrivals had 
fallen upon us, and we were all talking at 
once. Who has come ? and when are the 
others coming ? and have you had a lovely 
summer ? and is n't it nice to be back ? and 
there are oceans of freshmen around, and 
the juniors are mostly in Strong Hall, 
and the apples are all gathered from the 
orchards, and oh, has your luggage come ? 

A Superior Young Woman 179 

and here are some welcome letters waiting 
for you. 

Escorted through the corridors lined 
with trunks and packing-boxes, we discov- 
ered that some friends had placed bowls 
of nasturtiums in our rooms, and collected 
our stray chairs and china. At the strik- 
ing of the dinner-gong, a journey full of 
laughter down to the dining-room, in a 
long line, arms over shoulders ; and when 
opposite the entrance a crowd of new- 
comers trooping in with satchels and um- 
brellas. Then a sudden breaking of line, 
and new shrieks and running, and shaking 
hands with some, and not shaking hands 
with others because somehow our arms 
had slipped away around behind their 

At dinner, after we were seated at a 
table in the middle row reserved for 
seniors, Rachel announced, " There she 

Advancing down the room- in a digni- 
fied rigidity of self-possession, the Superior 
Girl came straight toward a vacant chair 
beside my friend. With a slight bow she 

i8o Vassar Studies 

appropriated the seat. Before I could 
think of some cordial word for the stran- 
ger, Rachel was introducing her. " Permit 
me," graciously ; " I feel as if I know you 
from having seen your name on your 
trunk. You have reached this table just 
in time to keep me from being lonely. 
They are all seniors except you and 

The girl's smile was faint, and faded 
quickly, while her eyes seemed to grow 
more icily blue every minute. She spoke 
not at all beyond monosyllables, and then 
with apparent effort and an air of aloof- 

On our way up-stairs to chapel, Rachel 
pretended to shiver. " I am chilled 
through and through," she complained ; 
" that young woman is even more superior 
than I was when I entered. Do you sup- 
pose - - oh, do you suppose - - that she 
will condescend to converse with the 
professors E" 

The following day was appallingly busy 
with " getting settled "- boxes to be un- 
packed, trunks to be hunted up, step-lad- 

A Superior Young Woman 181 

ders to be kidnapped, tack-hammers to be 
borrowed, pictures to be hung, curtains to 
be draped, and perhaps a trip down-town 
to be taken for the purchase of extra brass 
rings or window-shades or a couch-frame. 
Between times a journey to the grocery 
in the rear to lay in a supply of sugar and 
chocolate and wafers, or a dash into the 
stationery shop to order text-books. And 
every little while in the headlong rush, a 
pause long enough to shake hands with a 
teacher or a professor, to bow to an un- 
derclassman, to chat benignantly to a 
freshman just introduced, or to cast aside 
dignity in rapturous haste to greet some 
late-arriving classmate. 

At dusk, Rachel, successful in a raid 
after picture hooks, came in with her eyes 
brimming with enjoyment. " I met her 
by the bulletin board. She is beginning 
to unbend. She asked me to come to see 
her because I must find it lonely these 
first few days." 

" And you an unapproachable junior ! " 

" I wonder what seniors she intends to 

include among her acquaintances. Oh, 

1 82 Vassar Studies 

we are going to be very select, my dear, 
and probably we shall join ' Dickens ' and 
' Shakespeare,' and be president of the 
freshman class, and head editor of the 
Miscellany, and chairman of the Phil, com- 
mittee, if the girls beg hard enough, and 
we shall win the championship in golf and 
tennis, provided that we consider it worth 
while to enter the tournament, and if we 
decide to exert ourself in studying, look 
out for the college records. We, my dear, 
happen to be a remarkably superior per- 

That evening, when I lingered on the 
stairs to watch the students thronging out 
from chapel, I spied the erect young fresh- 
man, while making her way through the 
chattering, laughing groups which were 
blockading the corridor, come suddenly 
upon Rachel. The junior's bow was un- 
doubtedly somewhat too beaming for mere 
good-will untainted by amusement. At 
sight of her, a swift quiver like a shadow 
swept over the freshman's face, leaving it 
set in haughtily indifferent lines. Her 
nod was almost imperceptible. 

A Superior Young Woman 183 

Rachel looked up at me, and began to 
shiver violently. 

The next morning, which was Sunday, 
Rachel and I seized the hour before church 
time for a saunter through the grounds. 
Out to the gardens spicy with autumn 
scents. On the basket-ball courts, the 
spots worn bare last spring around the 
posts have grown thinly green. Fragrant 
afar, the tuberoses stand in tall white 
ranks ; marigolds, cheerfully gorgeous, 
line the farther curve of walk ; nastur- 
tiums blaze from carpets of foliage freshly 
green from the rain of the equinoctial 
storm. Buds are forming on the hardy 
chrysanthemums and the sprawling, feath- 
ery-sprayed cosmos. The few pansies 
which have survived the drought of sum- 
mer hold up big rich-tinted blossoms. 

Down toward the lake we strolled, 
where goldenrod in corners and purple 
asters sheltered in angles of the stone wall 
tempted us to thoughts of country ram- 
bles and speculations concerning woody 
nooks where fringed gentians grow. In 
the field toward the rink, here and there 

1 84 Vassar Studies 

an ancient daisy brought memory of white- 
starred June. Sturdy spikes of butter- 
and-eggs usurped the meadows belonging 
in spring to buttercups. Through the 
evergreen walk, and a pause by the ruined 
bridge to inspect the two chestnut trees 
beyond, and calculate upon frosts and 

" Are you planning to show your socia- 
ble freshman where the biggest chestnuts 
grow, Rachel?" I asked, idly talka- 

" I don't dare," under her breath in mock 
terror ; " I 'm ' scared ' for fear she won't 
bow when next we meet." 

At the word, from around the curve of 
shaded path appeared the Superior Girl. 
,She was walking swiftly with strong, free 
step, and an alertness of interest in trees 
and birds which argued self-sufficiency so 
far as concerned human companionship. 
Coolly her unseeing eyes swept the vicin- 
ity of the two loitering by the brook within 
range of ordinary vision. 

Rachel turned to me. " Is my hat on 
straight ? Oh ! is it ? " in anxious tones ; 

A Superior Young Woman 185 

" since we are part of the landscape, at 
least let us be decorative." 

" I should like to see her when she has 
developed into a senior," I said, sending a 
half, wistful thought before her through 
the four care-free years. 

" Why don't you look at me ? " inquired 
my comrade absently, as we passed on 
toward the glen ; " when I entered college, 
I also was a superior girl on the high- 
way to developing into a superior young 
woman and now you see what I have 
become an average girl." 

" What a tragedy ! " with a comprehen- 
sive glance at the distinguished-looking 
girl beside me. 

" It is a pity," she assented ; " and I 
might have been so perfect ! " 

"Well," watching her sidewise, "what 
is lacking now ? " 

A slow laugh shone out : " What a criti- 
cism ! But such is the understanding of 
those we call our friends," with resignation. 

" Of course," I persisted, " you have 
grown older." I did not add, as I might 
have done, that she had also grown more 

1 86 Vassar Studies 

womanly through a softening of self-as- 
sertive angles. I remembered in her, as 
a freshman, a certain intolerance, lack of 
sympathy, and hardness in judging others. 

" Older," she repeated ; " I wonder if it 
is growing older, or if it is coming to 

" I came to college once," I ventured. 

" You ! " she laughed again, outright 
this time, and so gayly that a squirrel 
twinkling at us from a dead stump disap- 
peared precipitately ; " you came to college, 
but the trouble is that you have grown 
younger. At any rate, you have not im- 
proved in the way I have." 


Rachel had seated herself on the railing 
of the glen bridge, and was dropping leaf 
after leaf into the water. " Never mind," 
she said consolingly, "you were not so 
very superior when you entered." After 
a moment's silence, she spoke slowly : 
" Ever since I entered college, I have 
been learning my limitations limitations 
of body, brain, intellect, temperament, 
character, personality 

A Superior Young Woman 187 

" Hold enough ! " 

" When I entered college See here, 
I am afraid that you will think that I was 

" Don't bother to discriminate tenses." 

"Discriminate tenses? 'will think '- 
'was conceited.' Villain ! " 

" Oh, go on, sweetheart." 

" Very well, when I entered college, I 
was in much the same state of mind that 
you were in when you came my self- 
esteem was magnificent." 

" Who would have thought it ! " 

" Seriously, you know what I mean. 
Many of the girls come here from pre- 
paratory or high schools, where they have 
shone without peers in their respective 
orbits. Valedictorian, you know, show 
pupil, pride of their teachers, and all that. 
Their friends bid them admiring farewells, 
praying them not to let college change 
them. Naturally they are not groaning 
in dust and ashes over their own short- 

" Not exactly." 

" Having been praised and petted and 

1 88 Vassar Studies 

held up as models at home and at school, 
never having been surpassed by their 
companions, and never having failed in 
any undertaking, they possess well a 
goodly store of self-confidence." 

" Perhaps, Rachel, the narrative would 
be more vivid if you spoke in the first 

" The second might answer fully as 

" What happened to your stock after 
you arrived ? " 

" Sad sad too sad for tears ! There- 
fore I mourn for our superior young 
freshman friend. Shock after shock of 
disillusionment, until on Commencement 
Day, wail, wail, weep and wail, all ye 
average girls." 

" Be specific." 

Rachel gathered another handful of 
leaves. "Behold her future -- black 
black and dripping with grief 
over self-limitations. First she will learn 
By the way, do you recollect what 
occurs shortly after the Christmas holi- 

A Superior Young Woman 189 

" Mid-year examinations." 

" And after the exams. ? " 

" Flunk notes." 

" Presumably you speak from experi- 
ence. And I I was surprised." 

Cherishing silence, I looked sympa- 

" The professor said, ' Are n't you 
strong ? ' Now, never having been ill or 
mentally tired, I was not acquainted with 
the limits of physical strength, and so I 
answered that I did not know. The pro- 
fessor turned to look at me I remem- 
ber just how she swung around in her 
swivel chair and said, 'Suppose you 
experiment a little in that direction.' And 
so I experimented." Rachel's face was 

" Are you strong?" 

Her eyes resting on me were serious, 
while her lips smiled. " I am about as 
strong as the average girl." 

A note of what might have been tragedy 
in a more ambitious nature sounded here. 
Rachel turned again to her play as Jack 
Frost. "Once, in the high school, a stupid, 

1 90 Vassar Studies 

pretty little thing confided to me the dis- 
covery that some people, no matter how 
hard they study, are unable to excel 
others." After a moment's intentness in 
watching a red maple leaf circle toward 
the water, " I made the same discovery at 

" Is excelling others different from ac- 
complishing excellent work ? " 

The laugh was frankly genuine. "It 
was not different in my case. You should 
have seen me study that second semester. 
I worked some days until my head ached, 
and my hands shook, and the slightest 
rustle made me jump as if shot. On the 
day of a written test, I felt as if a band 
was tight about my head, and ideas kept 
slipping away from me as beads roll off a 
loose string. I learned the meaning of 

We started up the steep path to Sun- 
set Hill. " Once," my companion con- 
tinued, " I fell when playing basket-ball, 
and somebody stumbled over me. I could 
not catch my breath. I tried, and I could 
not could not, you know." 

A Superior Young Woman 191 

"Yes, I know." 

" That poor young freshman ! Think 
of her struggling to comprehend the prob- 
lems of Life and Death, the System of 
the Universe, Plato's Theory of Ideas, 
and the question of Achilles and the Tor- 
toise. Vainly will she strive to define 
Time ; hopelessly will she grapple with 
Free Will and Predestination ; despair- 
ingly will she wrestle to comprehend the 
nth power of x, and the square root of a 
negative one." 

" Could n't you understand those little 

" Miserable me ! " From the seat un- 
der the evergreens upon the hilltop, we 
were gazing far away across brown fields 
to the mountains blue against the pale 
sky. Rachel's eyes had fallen to the Ridge, 
where dark spikes of firs set off the splen- 
dor of its autumn coloring. " Another 
limitation. Cedar Ridge means to me 
rocks and trees, and spring flowers, and it 
is pleasing to the sight. But why don't I 
love it? And there is music too. If I 
have a comfortable seat and an easy mind, 

192 Vassar Studies 

I enjoy music. But -- oh, well, that 
poor freshman will find out that there are 
limitations to her capacity for suffering 
and enjoying, and to her sympathy, and 
her unselfishness, and her forbearance, and 
a few other things. She will discover 
that she has been a model because she has 
never been tempted, and that she has 
had a reputation for sweetness of disposi- 
tion because she has never been tried. 
And worst of all, she will learn " - a 


" It. is not so bad when you do wrong 
against your will, but when you will to do 
wrong ! " 

" Tell me about it." 

" Pshaw!" jumping up, "this bench is 
all angles. It was nothing, except that I 
knew I should not do it, but I wanted to, 
and so I did. It was a corruption of will. 
And then I persuaded myself that I had 
done right. I can deceive myself." 

Silently we passed out from under the 
evergreens upon the free curve of the hill. 
Sloping fields on every side, with the 

A Superior Young Woman 193 

orchard below us, and the brook seeming 
to rest on its slow way across the sunny 

" I should not be surprised," I said, " if 
it is simply growing older." 

" No," spoke Rachel decisively, " it is 
coming to college. You overlook the 
fact that I kept on growing older all the 
years at home. It was not until I came 
to college, where there is such boundless 
scope for endeavor, and such inimitable 
opportunities for comparison " 

" You forget," I hinted, " that you 
are still at college. You are only a 

From behind the screening evergreens 
across the brook came the faint clangor of 
a gong. We quickened our steps until 
the sight of the familiar red walls coaxed 
our pace to a contemplative saunter. 

" Year after year I watch with ghoulish 
glee this old institution swallowing up su- 
perior young women, and grinding out 
average girls," chanted Rachel, " the 
tyranny of fact, the tyranny of fact ! " 

" And so you think that the career of 

194 Vassar Studies 

that freshman will be a duplicate of 
yours ? " 

" Only more so. When I entered, I 
was not quite so haughty and self-suffi- 
cient ; I sometimes dispensed with the 
ceremony of introduction in the case of 
anxious aspirants. I never ' cut ' people." 

" Is that an argument pro or con your 
claim to less superiority ? " 

" I never answer foolish questions" se- 

" Quoth the average girl !" 

" The process is not yet complete," 
laughed my comrade ; " wait until I am a 

As we turned into the long corridor of 
the Main Building, we spied far away a 
remarkably erect figure pausing at the 
mail-chute. " It might be interesting," 
murmured Rachel, " to read that letter." 

A year or two later, by a " fortuitous 
combination of circumstances," or, in other 
words, an extension of Rachel's circle of 
acquaintances, she was shown the letter 
treasured by the girl's mother among the 
relics of her daughter's college career. 

A Superior Young Woman 195 

" VASSAR COLLEGE, September 25th. 

" Family with a capital, you see, because 
I am appreciating more and more the 
advantages of having a ready-made reputa- 
tion and position. Here we are an aggre- 
gation of units, each one for herself, and 
' I care for nobody, no not I, and nobody 
cares for me ! ' We are like wooden images 
standing up sharply in the public gaze with- 
out any softening background of relations. 
No one of us is daughter of this, grand- 
daughter of that, or sister of somebody 
else ; we are simply girls. Of course, the 
situation is trying on those who have lived 
so far in the reflected glory of their kins- 
men, as I have done. I know that I 
shall disgrace you all I, your stupid 
daughter, the black sheep, or gray, that 
is, some color not at all brilliant. 

" When I first came, I was so * scared ' 
that I did not know where to go or what 
to do, and I was afraid to ask, because 
everybody seemed to know everything, 
and they all hurried along as if they had 
no time to help strangers, So I screwed 

196 Vassar Studies 

up the wee bit of courage which I bor- 
rowed from ' you all,' and stood up straight, 
as I have been taught, and shuffled ahead. 
It was not so bad getting to the college, 
except that some girls noticed that I was 
decidedly a freshman. One of them was 
saying something interesting about su- 
perior girls, and I was listening in the 
greenest way, when they both looked 
straight at me. I saw them smile. Sink- 
ing through the floor would have been too 
slow a mode of exit ; I longed at the very 
least for spontaneous combustion. 

" At the college, there were students on 
duty to escort us to the Principal, and 
show us our rooms. (Considering that 
you have been here, I thankfully omit de- 
scriptions. Already this morning I have 
expatiated in three different letters upon 
the woodbine-covered buildings, the lawns, 
the evergreens, the lake, the hills, and the 
gardens.) The trouble came in when the 
gong struck for dinner. As I did not 
know where to sit, I took the first empty 
place I saw. And just think ! It was a 
senior table ! Was n't that awful ? I 

A Superior Young Woman 197 

hardly dared to open my mouth except to 
eat and not much for that but the girls 
were lovely to me. One of them told me 
that all the rest were seniors. I took her 
for another freshman (idiot that I am), 
and invited her to come to see me. That 
was the most awful break a freshman 
patronizing- a junior ! You see, I thought 
that she was lonely, because she kept 
looking at me in a sympathetic way as if 
we were in the same predicament cats in 
a strange garret, so to speak. 

" She impresses me as a type of the 
superior young woman physical distinc- 
tion added to perfect self-possession and 
graciousness of manner, undoubtedly with 
intellectual ability. She always seems to 
be mistress of circumstances. As for me, 
I was dreadfully afraid that when I saw 
her next after my mighty blunder I should 
lose all self-control, and turn and run. 
However, I faced it out, though my knees 
almost succeeded in carrying me off on a 
terrified trot. I saw her again by a brook 
this morning, but I did not look at her. 
It is so much easier, when you are embar- 

198 Vassar Studies 

rassed, to pretend that you do not see 

"It appears to me from comments over- 
heard that every girl is the flower of her 
adoring family. Imagine my heart sink- 
ing clear down to my heels whenever it 
gets a chance to leave my throat. Would 
you be much disappointed if I should give 
it all up, and fly away home to you dear 
indulgent people ? You understand how 
to deal out allowance for my runaway 
temper, my talent for making mistakes, 
and my brain in its ' normal state of 

" Almost time for church services. 
Don't worry about me, because I am not 
in the least homesick. And who knows ? 
perhaps if I stay here awhile associating 
with these fine girls, I may absorb a little 
brilliancy and charm and strength of char- 
acter. Just fancy would n't it be fun if 
college should evolve a superior young- 

" From your ordinary 




THAT athletic girl puzzles me. In spite 
of the frivolous way in which she goes 
laughing through her freshman days (and 
she looks pretty well when she laughs), she 
impresses me as a naturally joyous tem- 
perament overshadowed by some impend- 
ing calamity. In chapel, nestling up into 
a corner of the pew, she watches every- 
thing with deep solemn eyes. Often I 
notice her lingering with a hopeless face 
outside the algebra class-room. Some- 
thing which happened to-day has strength- 
ened my suspicions. 

As I was strolling around the gardens 
in the shadow of the evergreens, contem- 

1 Printed in the Vassarion of 1896. 

200 Vassar Studies 

plating the new moon above the fading 
sunset glow, there was a sound of quick 
breathing, a soft swish of pine-needles, 
and something in a kilted skirt and sweater 
darted to my side. " Oh," panted a girl's 
voice, " I am so glad to find you alone ! 
Perhaps you did not understand how 
it happened. But when I tell you it 
is hereditary you will help me. I will 
try I will work no one must know." 

" I beg your pardon." 

" Oh ! " her face flashed around into 
mine, and blazed with swift color. " I 
thought you were somebody else." 


I was leaning out of my window, trying 
to decide whether the earth's satellite was 
two-thirds or three-quarters full, and mean- 
while reflecting that in my freshman year 
I would rapturously have written in my 
diary : " A glorious moon, sailing aloft in 
the dark blue sky, is turning the little 
clouds to silver." At that time, also, I 
used to rave over the " splendor of woman- 
hood," and this " white beautiful world " ; 

That Athletic Girl 201 

now, I occasionally allude to the college 
woman, or mention the fact that it has 
been snowing. 

As I was beginning to blush at the 
recollection, I heard that athletic girl's 
gym shoes race up to my door. She 
burst in with such a waste of valuable en- 
ergy that I felt like collapsing into the 
nearest chair to emphasize repose of man- 
ner. (I fear that she has not yet learned 
to save superfluous vigor for examination 

" I beg your pardon," she cried, " but 
have you anything good to eat jelly 
or olives or crackers ? If I grow much 
hungrier, I shall become desperately blue." 

There is a point. The very fact that 
she connects so early in her college career 
a physical state with a mental attitude, 
argues an abnormal intelligence. I won- 
der if that hereditary blight, which she 
mentioned so inadvertently the first time 
we met, has anything to do with the brain. 
Certainly her choice of articles for con- 
sumption is a proof of mental obliquity 
jelly, olives, crackers ! At the table she 

202 Vassar Studies 

never takes rice-pudding, and for break- 
fast she eats sugar with a little oatmeal 
under it. 

She has an engagement with some 
senior three times a week. Probably it is 
to make fudges. 


That girl is positively shallow. I can- 
not see why everybody insists on liking 
her, unless it is because of her attitude 
toward life. (The aim of the college 
course is to teach criticism of the world, 
others, and ourselves ; she has not even 
begun the lesson.) 

This afternoon she caught up to me in 
the corridor, and flung her arm, boy- 
fashion, over my shoulders -- my shoul- 
ders my senior shoulders (and I believe 
in individuals walking like separate per- 
sonalities, each surrounded with its own 
untouched atmosphere). A questioning 
smile concealed the wonder if she could 
feel the calcium hardening in my bones. 
She said : " I am blue. The remedy is 
nature. Take me to see the sunset." 

That Athletic Girl 203 

As I stood somewhat apart from her on 
the hilltop, with a volume of Browning 
open in my hands, I saw that girl while 
the sun was setting in floods of gold above 
the blue hills I saw that girl take a chest- 
nut out of her pocket, and pensively eat it ! 

On the way home, she said : " What did 
it make you think of ? I kept thinking 
all the time, Let x equal the number of 
sunsets from now until the first Saturday 
in December, and then I seemed to feel 
the formula : One divided by infinity is 

Struck by the poetry of her thought, I 
endeavored to forget that chestnut. "Yes," 
she went on meditatively, " one equals 
me ; infinity equals the amount of study I 
must do ; zero equals the result of the 

I looked at her. 

"And then I wondered," she continued, 
" if the ice-cream to-night would be choco- 
late or apricot. The flight of time always 
reminds me of weekly ice-cream." 

I cannot help hoping that that chestnut 
was wormy just a little wormy. 

204 Vassar Studies 


That girl came rushing into my room 
like a like a person with a firm hold 
on life on physical life and dragged 
me out to skate. 

" You are morbid ! " she exclaimed. 
(Morbid!) "You have been writing 
poetry, have n't you, now ? I see it 
in the way you look out of your eyes. 
Come, exercise is the remedy for morbid 

There is something taking about that 
girl. (I do not know whether it is be- 
cause she has not yet learned to mount 
neat cross-sections of her heart under a 
mental microscope, or because she looks 
so well in her gym suit.) I watched her 
skate every movement instinct with life, 
the red of her cap catching the tint of her 
cheeks, her eyes reflecting the blue of the 
sky, and sunny curls blowing (curls are by 
no means intellectual). I was pondering 
over that hereditary mystery. She cer- 
tainly has no physical defects. 

When my ankles were tired, I stood 
near the ashes of last night's bonfire, and 

That Athletic Girl 205 

tried to imagine the history of each black- 
ened brand. 

" Think of the green living tree this 
was once," I began, " with birds singing 
in its branches, and leaves dancing on its 
limbs, and breezes whispering to it. And 
now look 

" Make it a tense of momentary ac- 
tion," she broke in. " Come, skate up the 
lake with me. I am the cure for senti- 
mental blues." 

Sentimental ! / sentimental ! ! I 
sentimental ! ! / 

Upon the whole, I believe that that 
athletic girl is mentally defective. 

I have misjudged that girl. When she 
refused to go to the asylum for the insane 
(she calls it insane asylum so inaccurate 
in her use of words !) with the class in so- 
cial science, I decided that she was afraid 
of the deep problems of life. She said 
that the " institution smell of sud-soaked 
floors " (see Warner's American Charities) 
made her blue, and she was out of the 

206 Vassar Studies 

remedy for that variety sweet violets. 
She has never shown a scholarly attitude 
toward the broadening of her intellectual 
horizon. I left her in a chaos of paper 
and pencils, xs andjj/s, addition, subtrac- 
tion, multiplication, and division. She ap- 
pears devoted to mathematics. 

The asylum made me resolve to demon- 
strate to that girl the inexcusableness of 
blues at any other place. One woman 
was pacing back and forth, her hands 
clasped behind her, her head dropped on 
her breast. As I happened to pull out 
my handkerchief, my tin spoon fell to the 
floor. (I had slipped it into my pocket 
that morning, when I found that girl using 
it to scrape sugar out of a candy pan.) At 
the tinkle of its fall, the woman stopped 
short then darted to the spoon, and 
picked it up. She glanced at it, and then 
at me, and her eyes looked as that girl's 
do when she is trying to calculate the 
purchasing power of her month's allow- 
ance. Finally the woman said : " Give 
me the spoon. It reminds me of home." 

I thought of the initials scratched on 

That Athletic Girl 207 

the spoon, and of all they meant to me ; 
then I looked at the long sunless corri- 
dors, the dull eyes, the heavy faces, and, 
realizing the hopelessness of their lives 
there, I gave her the spoon. 

She smiled, and suddenly I under- 
stood : the same smile only wrinkled, 
the same eyes only shifting. That girl's 
hereditary blight ! 


That girl has not sufficient mental abil- 
ity to manage the conduct of life without 
moral standards. When she read the first 
chapter in my senior ethics (old moral 
standards are demolished in that chapter, 
and new ones only they are the same as 
the others are constructed in the last), 
she straightway lost all regard for author- 
ity and order even for the rising gong. 
That is what spoiled my trip to New York 
that irresponsibility of hers. 

On that particular morning, the senior 
who had intended to go to the theatre 
with me was taken ill with the kind of 
tonsillitis that breaks out ; and I asked 

2o8 Vassar Studies 

that athletic girl to go in her place. At 
the station she bought a local newspaper 
instead of studying character (she is so 
neglectful of the grand opportunities for 
self-culture). The through express had 
thundered to a vibrating pause, and we 
had found seats on the river side of the 
car. We were comfortably settled, with 
no perceptible breeze ruffling our hair, and 
the curtain just high enough. That girl 
glanced at the paper then darted out of 
the car, and dashed through the waiting- 
room. The train pulled out. I looked 
at the page she had scanned. In bold 
head-lines I saw, " Escape of Five Insane 

Instantly I comprehended everything 
that insane woman escape that athletic 
girl ! The poor child ! The thought of 
her troubled me all day. 

I had given her both our theatre tickets 
to carry. 


I am never blue. Occasionally I realize 
that nothing is worth the trouble it costs ; 

That Athletic Girl 209 

at such times I dress in my most becom- 
ing clothes. (It is a well-known fact that 
each individual is born into this world to 
cherish and watch over his own precious 
self. By making himself as sweet and 
agreeable as possible, therefore, he puts 
himself into better relations with life.) 

At twilight I was out walking in my 
best clothes. (To-day's newspaper con- 
tained an account of the capture of the 
escaped insane patients, and a description 
of a key made by one of them out of clock 
wire and a tin spoon.) As I plodded 
around the gardens, I saw that girl dan- 
cing a horn-pipe on a pile of dry leaves. 
Darting up to me, she flung both arms 
around my best collar. " Oh," she cried, 
" I got through ! I got through all right ! " 

I walked on, waiting for further develop- 
ments. She skipped along at my side. 
(Expression of emotion is essentially un- 

" What if I had not happened to see 
the date on that paper Saturday ? " she 
rattled. " I had forgotten. I reached the 
college just in time." 

210 Vassar Studies 

"In time for what?" 

" The second examination in entrance 
math. And I got through ! I got through ! 
No more tutor for me ! My father never 
could do mathematics. It is an hereditary 
blight. But I got through ! I got through, 
I tell you through, through, through ! 

" Here 's to good old Vassar, 
For there 's none that can surpass her, 
And good-bye, good-bye, good-bye to entrance 

She disappeared in a whirl of twinkling 
feet and breezy hair. 

Well I have always suspected the 
existence of a mental deficiency. 



IT was Thursday evening of Commence- 
ment week. A gray sky was deepening 
into purple above the evergreens, when 
Louise, leaving the garden paths, wan- 
dered across the grassy basket-ball courts 
to the graceful elm in the centre of the 
Circle. A low railing constructed for 
the Class Day exercises still hemmed in 
the space about the tree, where the seniors 
had gathered to bury their records and 
sing their last song. Louise stared gloom- 
ily at the new stone slab sunken into the 
freshly turned earth at her feet. It had 
been like a funeral the farewell words, 
the lowering of the box into the grave, 
the casting in of flowers as the girls 
marched past, the singing. Louise cleared 

212 Vassar Studies 

her throat ; she considered that the verses 
had been sentimental. It was hard enough 
to accept the fact that the four pleasant 
years were gone, without whimpering over 
the irrecoverable. 

Louise winked once or twice while her 
arm slipped around the tree beside her. 
The sky had become quite purple in the 
twilight and the evergreens stretched dark 
and shadowy along the broad curve of the 
gardens. Now and then a sleepy twitter 
came from some hidden nest, or a squir- 
rel's ".cheep" sounded in the yew hedge. 
Louise fell into a reverie with her cheek 
against the rough bark. 

With a sigh of half-wistful regret, her 
fancy roamed back to her first year at 
college. Then her uncloyed zest of de- 
light in every feature of the new life had 
nourished an admiration passionately un- 
critical. Coming, as she did, from a noisy 
Western city which spread its sooty bulk 
over a treeless prairie, she was enraptured 
with the fresh daintiness of the garden- 
like place in the green hill country. Every 
bud and bird and blossom was a marvel to 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 213 

her the clustering woodbine upon the old 
brick walls, the level stretches of lawn 
with tree-shadows falling on them, the lake 


sparkling in its setting of gold and scarlet, 
russet and brown, the long avenues of 
maples with yellow leaves drifting down 
in the sunshine, the meadows, fields, and 
woods, the far-away blue hills, even the 
sky and the clouds, now floating high, 
pearly white, and now, purple and black, 
torn and driven in riotous flight before a 
rollicking wind all things seemed more 
beautiful there than anywhere else. 

The manner of daily living, also, was 
charming to her. She loved the pleasant 
routine of work and play, the regular 
hours, the intellectual stimulus of the 
classroom, the wholesome diversions in- 
doors and out, and, most of all, she re- 
joiced in the blithe unconventionality of 
social intercourse. At home she had sel- 
dom taken her head out of a book except 
to dream ; it was probably due, therefore, 
to the general novelty of her surroundings 
and interests at college, that, emerging 
from self-absorption, she entered upon a 

214 Vassar Studies 

vivid exaltation of the people around her. 
With an enthusiastic impartiality, she dis- 
covered that every student was pretty and 
every teacher beautiful. 

Louise raised her head and rubbed the 
spot on her cheek where the rough bark 
had left its impress. Lightly her thoughts 
passed on to her sophomore year. Then 
had appeared the first small signs of dis- 
criminative power. She lost the nai've 
satisfaction with which the previous spring 
she had been wont to arrange for miscel- 
laneous distribution saucers full of many- 
tinted flowers. She learned that not all 
evergreens are pines, and that there are 
more varieties of birds than can be desig- 
nated by the names of colors. A growing 
differentiation of intellectual tastes began 
to interfere with her former strict equita- 
bleness in the division of time among her 
studies. In the choice of recreations, 
also, she was conscious of dawning prefer- 
ences as an individual in place of catholic 
enjoyment as a member of a community. 
She found out that she liked basket-ball 
better than gymnasium drill, and that 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 215 

skating was a more enjoyable exercise 
than either. 

The relation, however, which exhibited 
most strikingly the development, was her 
attitude toward her associates. The all- 
embracing benevolence of her faculty for 
admiration was gradually converted into 
various forms and degrees of appreciation. 
One girl she respected for her manner, 
and another for her mathematical ability. 
As for the Faculty, although her awe had 
become less distant, her regard was more 
sympathetic. A certain childishness of 
freshman irresponsibility had given place 
to a deepening intellectual seriousness. 
She began to distinguish sharply between 
mental and physical beauty. 

And then she had become a junior. 
Moving a few steps, Louise sat down on 
an edge of the tiny platform built for the 
spade orator, and rested her chin on her 
hands. During that year she had devel- 
oped into a critic. She dissected the 
earthworm ; she analyzed the element of 
the artistic in dogwood blossoms ; she 
studied the color scheme of sunsets. 

216 Vassar Studies 

Adopting the principle of selection, she 
specialized in her favorite subjects in the 
college curriculum. She experienced an 
individualistic instinct of rebellion against 
the dictatorship of bells of sleeping, eat- 
ing, working, walking, at the striking of a 
gong. The question of exercise and rec- 
reation started her mind on an investi- 
gation of the necessity of the seesaw 
of energy and exhaustion. She learned 
to evolve a reason for each action and 

With respect to the people about her, 
she attempted to classify them according 
to manners, nerves, and temperament. 
She scrutinized motives, judging every 
fault and virtue with scrupulous regard 
for the personal equation. She still ap- 
proved of physical beauty, and paid rever- 
ence to intellectual ; but her deepest 
admiration she now lavished upon moral 

And then she had become a senior. 
The girl's mind, which had flitted rapidly 
over the first three years, here paused 
hesitatingly. Something distasteful in the 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 217 

memory caused her to stir uneasily, glan- 
cing vaguely at the darkening sky, as if 
the pleasures of introspection had begun 
to pall. Her senior year All at once 
Louise sprang erect at the sound of a 
rustle behind her. Some one suddenly 
appearing from the other side of the tree 
stopped short at sight of Louise with a 
movement like the frightened flutter of a 
bird. There was still light enough to 
catch a startled look of recognition, be- 
fore the newcomer fled swiftly away 
without a word. An eager bend forward 
of the slight figure, as it glided into the 
dusk, told of shy haste to escape follow- 
ing eyes. From under lowered brows 
Louise watched her until she seemed to 
melt into the darkness. That and her 
mouth drooped in helpless discomfort- 
that was the ghost of her senior year. 

Slowly Louise walked over the grass, 
in the direction of the main college build- 
ing. Under the arched gateway of the 
sombre hedge, she turned to look for the 
last time at the shadowy masses of the ever- 
greens and the delicate outline of the 

218 Vassar Studies 

branching elm. As she gazed, she forgot 
to weigh and calculate and consider ; she 
forgot for the moment the novel sting of 
recently learned diffidence ; she remem- 
bered only that she loved this beautiful 
place, and that she must leave it. The 
girl stood motionless ; she had not the 
will to turn away ; the breath of June 
roses blew toward her, and the darkness 
gathered more densely around. Suddenly 
she pulled off her hat, and bent her head 
one long minute. Then, starting away, 
she ran quickly without looking back. 

In the dim corridors of the building, 
packing-boxes were ranged desolately 
along the walls in a lengthening vista of 
disorder. Louise hurried on, past the 
dark transoms and closed doors of the 
first floor, to the second, where a glowing 
oblong of light here and there down the 
hall proclaimed the presence of seniors not 
yet vanished into the world. 

Pausing at the reading-room door, she 
felt a dull ache at sight of the vacant 
chairs prim in their places beside the dis- 
tressingly neat array of magazines and 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 219 

papers. A step over the threshold brought 
into view somebody standing by a table 
and listlessly fluttering the leaves of a 
pamphlet. At the sound of Louise's foot- 
falls, she glanced up, and as quickly 
snatched away her eyes. Then, as if un- 
der the pressure of a will trained to habits 
of politeness, she lifted her face toward 
Louise without meeting her gaze, and 
gave her a curt nod. Louise bowed un- 
smilingly, remembering the dismayed look 
under the elm tree and the wordless flight. 
And was this to be the end of her senior 
year ? A prescience of future reveries 
hovering reluctantly about the unexplained 
discomfort of this relation persuaded her 
to make a straightforward dash into the 
mystery, dealing with words only, and 
thus interpret the puzzle springing from 
manner. But at the first movement to- 
ward the other, who seemed poised on 
the defensive, an almost imperceptible 
quiver, eloquent of shrinking before her 
approach, smote Louise with a sense of 
utter helplessness. She hesitated, infected 
half unconsciously with tongue-tying em- 

220 Vassar Studies 

barrassment. Her companion, with an as- 
sumption of sudden interest suspiciously 
excessive, appeared to be devouring her 
pamphlet, held needlessly close. Louise 
turned slowly away. 

Out again in the deserted corridor, she 
stepped languidly, thinking over the past 
year. This young woman had entered 
college, joining the senior class, the pre- 
vious fall. Louise remembered noticing 
with careless indifference, when the new- 
comer first came to her table, that she 
looked very young to be a senior, and 
that she acted shy, as if frightened to be 
among so many strangers. Soon, how- 
ever, she became more at ease, at least in 
manner, and displayed a spirit of bright 
fun which kept the girls about her poised 
but lightly on the edge of seriousness. 
Attracted by the laughter, Louise had 
sought a seat near her at dinner ; later, in- 
terested in the apparently contradictory 
traits of a character new in her study of 
human nature, she had set zealously to 
work to classify this member of a novel 
species. Louise had exerted herself to be 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 221 

more thorough than ever before, watch- 
ing every word and action of the helpless 
specimen, analyzing her ideas, dissecting 
her motives, interpreting her statements, 
probing her opinions, judging her conduct, 
and meanwhile, scientifically experimental, 
effecting new situations and emergencies 
as tests of character. The final result of 
the investigation had been to assign the 
harmless girl to a class by herself as a 
human being almost perfect. 

As for the young woman under consid- 
eration, she had rewarded Louise's interest 
with shyly guarded sweetness of manner, 
changing later into painful self-conscious- 
ness, before deepening into half-fascinated 
avoidance. And Louise was puzzled. 

In her abstraction, oblivious of material 
difficulties, she stumbled over an open 
trunk beside an alley-way. Glancing 
toward the room at the end of the alcove, 
she spied, amid a disorder of small wooden 
boxes on the floor and large paper boxes 
on the chairs, a girl making little dabs at 
her eyes with a wet handkerchief, while 
trying to fold dress skirts. 

222 Vassar Studies 

"Oh, Louise!" she exclaimed, "where 
are you going ? Come in and see me ; it 
is the last time." 

Louise stood in the doorway. " I will 
be down later," she said ; " now I am going 
to make parting calls gather up the 
loose threads of my relations to different 
people, and tie them into neat bow-knots 
of farewell speeches." 

" Do you know beforehand what you 
are going to say ? " 

" Oh, dear, yes all analyzed out. To 
number one I shall say, ' Thou Beautiful ! 
thou inspiration of admiration ! ' To 
number two, ' O Intellect ! thou dost sym- 
bolize to me the deeper joys of discrimi- 
nation ! ' To number three, ' Thou art 
Character. Thou didst teach me the re- 
vealing power of true criticism.' To 
number four, ' Thou O thou ' " Louise 

"O thou what?" 

" Well " cautiously " there must be a 
stage beyond criticism hypercriticism, 
maybe. I have not composed that speech 
yet ; it will be something about oh, noth- 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 223 

ing in particular," and Louise added 
under her breath, " except self-dissatis- 

The other girl had ceased to wipe her 
eyes. " How awfully interesting ! Who 
are they ? " 

" Ghosts, my child, only ghosts the 
ghosts of the years that are past." 

The last word caught attention. " It is 
a shame to let us grow so fond of each 
other and of the college, and then scatter 
us to the four winds." 

Louise looked at her, fathoming the 
depth of feeling. " You would not choose 
to live here always ? " 

" No-o-o." 

" What is to be, is to be." 

" Behold me comforted ! " 

" Come," commanded Louise, " let us 
go to find the other girls." 

On reaching the third floor, they were 
greeted by an uproar from the senior par- 
lor. A dozen girls, hilarious, with eyes 
bright, were howling class songs, and im- 
provising accompaniments to a chorus of 
animal cries. Some of them called Louise 

224 Vassar Studies 

to help with the whistling. Her com- 
panion deserted her to assist in varying 
the meows, but she herself managed to 
escape, laughing while in sight. 

Up another flight of stairs to an open 
door, with light streaming out upon a 
shallow wooden box half filled with books. 
A glance showed the room vacant. How- 
ever, a vase of violets on the desk wooed 
Louise to enter, and an easy-chair invited 
waiting. As she bent over the flowers, 
she heard a firm quick step sweep into 
the alcove and pause on the threshold. 
Louise raised her head. It was a beauti- 
ful face smiling down on her from its 
stately height, and she felt again an in- 
voluntary thrill of the whole-hearted 
admiration of her freshman year. 

" Last sighs, Louise ?" 

" Yes, and last speeches something 
about how much I owe to x, y, and z t 
many thanks and so forth. It is difficult 
to drag such feelings to the surface for 
wordy expression. It is struggling against 
an instinct. Oh, an idea ! perhaps, if you 
find it awkward to say a certain thing, 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 225 

that is a sign that you would be wiser to 
keep silent." 

" How about the conjugation of a 
Greek verb, for instance ? " 

" Very well ; if you prefer to joke on se- 
rious subjects, I sha' n't tell you what stage 
you represent in my intellectual develop- 
ment. Lost : the chance of a lifetime ! " 

" Your intellectual development ? That 
is easy. I represent the first stage when 
you began to open your eyes on the 
world, and move about saying, ' Oh, oh, 
oh ! ' You used to be delightfully credu- 
lous of perfection. I kept my best foot 
forward so constantly that I almost lost 
the use of the other. But now, alas ! the 
grievous change ! " 

"And now?" 

" Hypercriticism." 

" I do not grumble." 

" Grumble ? Maybe not. Nor find fault 
with people. You merely judge them. 
Oh, I know an attitude purely scientific. 
You trot around with your little micro- 
scope polished up bravely, and beware ! 
ye miserable insects." 

226 Vassar Studies 

" Well ? " 

" Well, it is an extreme, a swing of 
the pendulum from your unsophisticated 
days. You will recover balance when 
you are out of this rarefied atmosphere 
away from this abnormal mode of 

The girl drooped suddenly. " You are 
not sorry to leave it ? " 

" Not a twinge ! The monotony of this 
place is terrible, after you have finished 
your own ahem intellectual develop- 
ment, and are only a teacher assisting in 
the development of others. Buried ! " 

" Drowned in work and buried in 

" Exactly. But that reminds me that 
those books must be packed to-night. 
Hand me a few, Louise." 

The girl carried an armful. " You 
never say please." 

" Now, Louise." 

" Oh, indisputably unnecessary, but I 
was thinking 

" Don't. ' Thought is a disease of the 
flesh.' Why can't you throw away 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 227 

that small microscope ? The secret of 

" Eureka ! " 

" lies in the attitude of acceptance. 
Why don't you accept people as they are ? " 

" Or reject them." 

" I should think that the girls would be 
afraid to have you around when they are 
off dress-parade duty." 

" If that is n't the most barefaced hint ! " 

" Louise, don't go. I want you to 
bring me more books." 

" And what will become of all the rest 
of these farewell speeches withering on 
my hands ? One more armful, and 
then " 

"Not good-bye?" 

" Oh, no. You are going to get up to 
the early breakfast to see me off." 

"Am I?" 

Louise blew her a kiss. 

After another journey through the 
cheerless disorder of the halls, with the 
sounds of desperate gayety coming faintly 
from the parlor, Louise found herself at 
the closed door of a room belonging to 

228 Vassar Studies 

one of the professors. To her, as she en- 
tered, the book-lined apartment seemed an 
oasis of calm in the midst of the turmoil 
of emotions and packing-boxes in the rest 
of the building. Two other seniors were 
already there at ease among the divan pil- 
lows. Louise chose a seat near the host- 
ess, who with cordial tact drew her within 
the conversational range. 

" We were speaking of ideals, and how 
they change as the years pass on." 

" When I was a freshman," spoke one 
of the girls, " my ideal of happiness was 
to be a senior." 

"And now?" 

" To be a freshman. Well, no, I do 
not mean that exactly. A repetition of 
all our written quizzes would be such a 
nervous strain. Think of the manual 
labor of examinations ! And yet 

The girl beside her lifted eyes heavy 
with shadows. " I saved out from pack- 
ing an extra embroidered handkerchief on 
purpose for to-night, but I am too tired 
even to feel." 

Louise leaned a little forward in her 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 229 

eagerness to grasp the conversational 
thread slipping out of reach. " Don't 
you think that during the college course 
our ideals develop from the spectacular 
to the spiritual ? " 

The student who had spoken first pre- 
tended perplexity. " I am worn out from 
sitting near you at the table all the year. 
What do you mean ? Spectacular to 

" I mean that your ideal of beauty 
changes its emphasis from complexion to 

" Oh, yes, the evolution of criticism." 

The professor was listening in as inter- 
ested a way as if she had never before 
heard such novel ideas. " Education, 
then, is a gradual deepening of insight ? " 

" Yes, and I think Well, perhaps 
we are born blind. At least, I was. And 
we need other people to help open our 
eyes. Why, do you know, I had never 
thought much about intellectual honesty 
or self-deception, until you spoke of such 
things one day in class." 

" I remember," murmured the caller 

230 Vassar Studies 

who had bemoaned loss of feeling ; " I 
shall always remember. There are initials 
whittled on the seats in that room, and 
there are spots of ink where we shook our 
fountain-pens, and there is a scratchy gray 
place on the blackboard, and we shall 

" Stop her, somebody ! " broke in the 
other, rising hastily ; " she left that hand- 
kerchief in the parlor. Help me to drag 
her away. We have decided not to say 
good-bye," with a faint smile into the pro- 
fessor's face ; " good-night is so much 
shorter, and answers quite as well." 

Louise lingered for a last word. As 
the door closed, her hostess turned toward 
her. " Well, Louise," taking the girl's 
hand in both her own, " you will write to 

" If I may," exclaimed Louise, joyfully 
anticipating the preservation of memories. 
As she watched the professor bending 
over her desk to write her summer ad- 
dress, she spied a new photograph 
propped against a paper-weight. An in- 
stant vision of the slender figure shrink- 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 231 

ing away from her into the dusk faded 
from Louise's mind before she picked up 
the card for a lingering scrutiny. It was 
a young girl's face with the mouth of a 
sensitive child and eyes looking shyly 
into hers. 

The professor raised her head. "It is 
a winning face, is n't it ? " noticing the 
picture ; " she brought it to me to-day. 
Her mother and I were classmates ; I 
have been glad to have the child with me 
here, even if it was only for her last year. 
She was timid about coming among 


" Has n't she enjoyed it ? " Louise spoke 

The professor hesitated. " She is nat- 
urally exceedingly shy and diffident. I 
am afraid that she felt the critical 
atmosphere at first." 

" She belongs to the charming type," 
murmured the student of character, " the 
type that possesses genius for winning 
personal attachment." 

" There is something lovable even about 
the photograph. Those lovable natures 

232 Vassar Studies 

are the very ones which are peculiarly 
sensitive to atmosphere. During the 
early part of the year, she used to come 
to me to 'catch her breath,' as she ex- 
pressed it. She felt like some prisoners 
of ancient times in a cell with all lux- 
uries and conveniences, but with two eyes 
at a hole in the ceiling, following every 

" Oh ! " the syllable breathed a pang 
of swift contrition. 

The professor spied the contracted 
forehead. " Don't look so tortured. It 
was better after a while. She told me 
that the eyes disappeared, and then some 
one set her up on a slippery pedestal and 
kept watching to see if she was going to 
fall off." 

The silence that ensued was broken by 
a flutter of gowns and girlish chatter at 
the door. Louise slipped away during 
the greeting. 

The next room presented a bare ap- 
pearance in the blankness of linen shroud- 
ing pver bookcases, pictures, and furniture. 
When Louise tapped on the door set 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 233 

ajar, she heard a gentle rustle, and felt 
herself wafted in on a breeze of cordial 
welcome. " My dear, I have been think- 
ing about you, and wondering if you 
would vanish without a good-bye." 

" You knew that I would not do that," 
responded the caller reproachfully, as she 
sank into an arm-chair, while her hostess 
chose the least comfortable seat in sight 
in an habitual way. Her face drew 
charm from its attentive sympathy. 

" I wanted a good talk with you before 
we scattered," began the girl, " but last mo- 
ments generally find moods out of tune." 

" What mood is it to-night ? " 

" I am leaving everything at loose 
ends," with a long sigh. 

" And you expected to finish off all the 
relations of your life with a Q.E.D. ? " 

Louise reflected the glimmer of a 
smile. " Ridiculous, is n't it ? But if I 
could only convey ideas, 'the impalpable, 
evanescent, intangible "-she waved her 
fingers in the air " impression of in- 
fluences. In short, if people would only 

234 Vassar Studies 

" Is she misunderstood ?" 

" Well, how would you like it," and 
Louise sat up straight, " if some one al- 
ways acted as if she thought that you 
were going to hurt her ? " 

" Oh, that 's the particular ' loose end,' 
is it ? The question is, have you hurt 

Louise looked uncomfortable. " I have 
been studying her all the year." 

" Oh," the tone was significant, " and I 
dare say that she is sensitive, and felt 
your attitude of judicial hostility?" 

" I hate to be superficial." 

" As Apollo doubtless thought in that 
little affair with Marsyas." 

" I think that she is unusually near 

" After deciding to approve of her, per- 
haps you analyzed her character to her 
face, and told her your opinion ? " 

"Well," with an attempt at self-justifi- 
cation, "when she acted so afraid of me, 
I hoped that she would be reassured by 
hearing how nearly faultless I considered 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 235 

The woman looked at the girl, and 
then turned her face toward the window 
for a moment. When she spoke, her 
voice had a tremulous note : " That sounds 

Louise glanced up quickly. " Laugh, if 
you can," and she herself was smiling, 
though with flushed cheeks, " but what 
shall I do?" 

" You are not likely to see each other 
after to-morrow." 

" But don't you see," bending forward 
anxiously, " she does not understand ? I 
have spoiled her senior year. And she 
will go away, always to feel discomfort at 
memory of me." 

A knock interrupting brought the caller 
to her feet. The hostess, having heard a 
tone of real distress in the egoistic little 
wail, whispered a " Come down later, 
dear," before Louise had disappeared to 
pay another last visit. 

At the president's house, she was 
shown into the library to await the mas- 
ter's arrival from town. An open fire, 
coquetting with the chill of the unseason- 

236 Vassar Studies 

able June night, tempted her with tongs 
laid near glowing logs. With a deep 
sigh she leaned her head against the back 
of the seat in the ingle-nook. 

A ring at the outer door, and some- 
body was being shown into the room with 
her. Louise rose, mysteriously expectant. 
At sight of her, the newcomer suddenly 
wavered, almost stopping short, half-way 
to the fireplace. To Louise's murmur of 
" Good-evening," she bowed with exag- 
gerated ease, and sank stiffly into a chair 
at hand. The expression was familiar 
shrinking written painfully on the sensi- 
tive face, with mouth set hard against a 
quiver, and eyes grown dark under 
lowered lashes. 

The quiet was full of pin - pricks. 
Finally, lifting every nerve to the effort, 
the later arrival remarked, with conven- 
tional sweetness above a sub-stratum of 
consciousness that Louise had once 
praised her manner as charming, " Is n't it 
delightfully cool this evening ? " 

" Yes," replied Louise, watching her 

The Ghost of Her Senior Year 237 

Vividly aware of the two eyes in the 
ingle-nook, the young woman, casting 
about desperately in her mind for some- 
thing to say, recollected that her com- 
panion considered her an entertaining 
conversationalist. At last, " Have you 
found your senior year pleasant ? " 

" Yes, except " - a quick change of 
voice into pleading tones " please be 

Elaborately at a loss, " Oh, I am per- 
fectly willing ! " meanwhile staring stead- 
fastly at the piano. 

Another silence, during which she 
crossed one foot over the other, and 
swung it nervously under Louise's furtive 

" I am sorry, sorry I cannot tell you 
how sorry that I have caused you to feel 
any lack of ease this past year." 

" Oh, I have been perfectly comfort- 
able," with a brilliant smile masking dis- 
mayed anticipation of a "scene." 

Louise turned hopelessly toward the 
fire ; the other had leisure to recall further 
items in the list of excellent qualities with 

238 Vassar Studies 

which Louise had credited her in an ana- 
lytical synopsis of her character. Her 
self-consciousness had by no means been 
diminished by the association with Louise ; 
this fact gave her a sense of injury wilfully 

Suddenly she stiffened under a percep- 
tion of renewed glances. 

" I have been wrong," said Louise ; " I 
wish that you would " she swallowed 
something in her throat " forgive me." 

For the first time that evening the 
young woman looked squarely at Louise, 
and at sight of the reddening cheeks and 
downcast eyes all at once regained her 
composure. Rising with outstretched 
hand, " That is all right," she said. 

Louise brightened joyously ; she would 
leave no loose ends after all. As for the 
other, though smiling bravely, she could 
not keep a cool limpness from her finger- 
tips, and, at the sound of steps approach- 
ing in the hall, she drew a long deep 
breath of relief. 




AT COLLEGE, September 27th. 

IN the state of happy-healthy-heartless 
well-being arising from an afternoon spent 
out-of-doors (yes 'm, a bicycle ride gay with 
foliage and fresh air, and apple trees lean- 
ing over stone walls, and red haws and 
wild grapes and fringed gentians), I sit 
down to write to Laura. Why to Laura ? 
Because. Oh, no, I am neither post-, pro-, 
circum-, extro-, nor intro-spective ; I am 
merely in perplexity. Out with it ! My 
dear, why did I come to college ? 

Aha, stumped ! (as the boys say. Bless 
the boys ! Without their scapegrace 
shoulders to bear the responsibility, how 

240 Vassar Studies 

should I dare to ah tackle slang?) 
Give it up. That terrible young friend 
of yours ! What base cruelty moved you 
to put her under my protection ? I an 
ordinary, inoffensive senior, with nerves 
and a talent for silence. I who have 
passed beyond the days argumentative 
concerning flattery and friendship. I 
whose brain is not lazy, you know, but 
simply averse to effort. And she is 
hist! she is an Inquiring Mind! Oh, 
the pity of it ! 

Only one week of college gone, and 
already I decline oatmeal at breakfast, 
drink hot water with a teaspoon, and 
shudder at the mention of fudges. 
Imagine the strain of association with an 
Inquiring Mind ! When I told her that 
I preferred the Main Building to the halls 
for residence, because the presence of the 
seniors gave it a scholarly atmosphere, she 
demanded promptly, " What do you mean 
by ' atmosphere ' ? " Of course, I described 
the article succinctly without hesitation. 
Again blind wretch that I am ! to fill 
up a conversational pause, meditative on 

Danger ! 241 

her part and miserable on mine, I re- 
marked that our college has a distinct 
personality in the educational world. 
Just as I was congratulating myself on 
the immensity of information conveyed, 
she spoke eagerly : " Please, I Ve always 
wanted to find out exactly what personality 
is. How do you define it?" The next 
attack will be and meanwhile fancy me 
increasingly like ALneas " as to my hair "- 
" What do you mean by ' good-morning ' ? " 
In chapel last night she sat beside me 
(I really prefer her beside me for obvious 
reasons connected with her eyes). I was 
feeling what ? yes, happy (for, alas ! I 
have not yet succeeded in rising above 
feeling, even if I am a senior) happy 
to be back among the girls again, to see 
them all around me, and to hear their 
voices singing. And then, too, the seat 
was comfortable, and well, I should not 
wonder if my mouth was half open (is n't 
that a sign of bliss ? or maybe it was just 
a sign that I was singing also). I was 
thinking that I should like to sit there 
forever only I knew I should n't listen- 

242 Vassar Studies 

ing to the music, when all at once your 
stern friend bent her awful gaze upon me 
with, " Why did you come to college ? " 

"Why did I come to college?" stam- 
mered I, wildly searching through my 
stock of ideas for a plausible excuse. 

" Oh, why, I came for fun." 

Then I wilted (she had looked at me). 

On the way out of chapel, she asked, 
" Do you believe that college life tends 
to produce a flippant attitude on the part 
of the students ? " 

Oh, yes. The way to maturity lies 
through a wilderness of ideas and opinions, 
with boggy places here and there. Clad 
in gayety and shod with self-confidence, 
the youth enters the swamp ; before he 
emerges, his robe is often worn to flippancy 
and his boots are wholly destroyed. 

But it is a beautiful swamp. 

Fare thee well. 

P. S. 

Was the Inquiring Mind ever free from 
care? She looks as if she bears on her 
shoulders the entire weight of the reputa- 

Danger ! 243 

tion of some ambitious private school. 
She has showed me a page in a new note- 
book headed, " Dangers of College Life." 
Eheu, eheu ! 



November 2d. 

I came to college for fun. (Ha, ha! 
shrieked the maniac.) Did I get it ? 
Yes, but not as I expected, with work 
sandwiched in between. The fun is the 
sandwiched portion. It makes, however, 
excellent eating. (That, noble one, is 
imagery. Further I refuse to explain ; I 
refuse henceforth to explain anything.) 

The whole place is full of interrogation 
points, generally in the form of a certain 
solemn-eyed young woman with a new 
note-book and a fountain-pen. Ask her 
why she keeps me dancing on the tenter 
hooks of a mysteriously guilty conscience. 
Why should she visit the sins of institu- 
tion life upon this meek mortal ? Find 
out if she considers college chiefly 

244 Vassar Studies 

valuable as a means of prolonging child- 
hood. Investigate her views of emotional 
excitability as one of the stigmata of 

What did she say to the Hallowe'en 
joke on the seniors the sweetest little 
lamb in hood and cloak, with various indi- 
cated innuendos concerning limitations of 
character and ability ? (It was a joke a 
capital Joke. I ought to know, as I was 
one of those detailed to feed him whipped 
cream all night ; he had such a vigorous 
way of voicing objections to solitude.) 
Your friend said nothing. She has, how- 
ever, speaking eyes ; they groaned, " And 
these are college women ! " 

What did she think during October, 
when every day which dawned with a glo- 
rious wind wrestling with the trees, saw 
us tearing out to the brook, where chest- 
nuts were pattering down upon dead 
leaves ? Or when we came back from the 
woods with our sleeves stuffed full of 
hickory nuts? Or when we sang and 
cheered and laughed all through the long 
beautiful drive to Lake Mohonk, jumping 

Danger ! 245 

down to search for wild flowers and apples, 
or run along behind the barges? And 
Miss Propriety? Well, I informed her 
that she was correct in calculating that 
the average age of the seniors is twenty- 
two years. 

In the third place and furthermore (are 
you noticing the scrupulously analytical 
form of this dissertation? Influence of 
contact with an Inquiring Mind), what 
were her meditations over the political 
campaign, which has been raging all the 

Perhaps you remember that, as a com- 
munity, like other good Americans, we 
are fond of exercising our lungs to express 
patriotic enthusiasm. When we have a 
chance to yell in a ladylike way that is, 
in a situation where we may regard our- 
selves more as abstract citizens of a great 
Republic than as concrete examples of the 
"eternal feminine "-we yell. It is excel- 
lent as a safety-valve for superfluous vital- 
ity ; it is also beneficial for the nerves of 
those who yell. 

You should have seen the magnificent 

246 Vassar Studies 

seriousness displayed by your young 
freshman during the dizzy round of our 
mimic campaign torchlight (without the 
torches) and bicycle processions, rallies, 
speeches, banquets, receptions, even vot- 
ing. On the night of our grand Republican 
parade (half of us wearing mackintoshes 
and half blazers, and every one a paper 
soldier cap, with effigies, floats, tin horns, 
drums, enthusiasm, and noise, while we 
marched up and down every floor of the 
Main Building), I caught a glimpse of that 
child's countenance (face is too short a 
word) as I was scurrying around the fourth- 
story traverse in the tail end of the pro- 
cession. I was the one that smiled. 

At another great event a reception of 
various delegations by the Republican 
candidate under an autumn-leaf-covered 
verandah in the lecture-room her emo- 
tions (oh, I beg her intellectual pardon ! 
her reflections) reached the pitch of utter- 
ance. The delegations, having gone 
through with hand-shakings and speeches, 
gathered in different parts of the room, 
and began to sing, or rather howl, each 

Danger ! 247 

its peculiar song. There were chappies 
pounding with gold-headed canes, hod-car- 
riers with hods, graders with shovels ; 
there were cooks, populists, nondescript 
toilers, and " new women." 

In the midst of the pandemonium, the 
Inquiring Mind approached me with an- 
guish of spirit in her eyes. " Don't you 

I hastened to assure her that I did, 
though as rarely as possible. Then I 
wilted, as on a previous occasion. 

" that the present political situa- 
tion is far too grave to be treated farci- 
cally ? " 

I wonder if she will ever exhibit for my 
benefit her list of " Dangers." I can 

imagine it : 


I. Item : Reason for entering college. 

Inference : Flippancy. 
II. Item : Hallowe'en jokes and romps. 

Inference : Frivolity. 
III. Item : Mimic political campaign. 

Inference : Foolishness. 

248 Vassar Studies 

Why did I ever come to college ? 

P. S. 

Fancy what I might have been, if I had 
not come to college. And woe, woe ! 
think of the fate of Miss Prunes-Pro- 
priety-Precision, if she stays. 



December nth. 


Only a note to beseech you to expos- 
tulate with that young person concerning 
her tendency to base general investiga- 
tions upon poor individual me. And 
please add a few remarks about timing 
her words to the occasion. Wherefore 
this supplication ? To-day an old school- 
mate ancient, in fact ; I had not seen her 
for a dozen years called to see me. 
When I entered the parlors, this stranger 
fell on my neck with protestations of joy. 
I simply had not the courage to confess 
that I did not know her from Adam. (Of 
course, I mean Eve. Behold the influence 

Danger ! 249 

again of Miss Precision.) Imagine me 
quaking through a tender conversation 
made up of reminiscences, until I clutched 
a clew ! Stretch your fancy far enough 
to see me making an account of the visit 
into a beautifully funny joke to amuse 
the girls at the table, and then to watch 
the Inquiring Mind break a meditative 
silence with " Is true politeness ever in- 
compatible with sincerity ? " 

Another point for her note-book : 

IV. Item : Social insincerities. 

Inference : Lack of moral courage. 

Oh, me ! oh, me ! By the way, a pos- 
sible " Danger" exploded on Philalethean 
Day. As the dining-room of the Main 
had been cleared for dancing, we had 
cosy little suppers in our rooms. Half a 
dozen of us clubbed together oysters 
from town, chafing-dish, miscellaneous 
china, one fork, three knives, innumerable 
spoons. That friend of yours surveyed 
every movement, tasted the rarebit, and 
saw that it was good ; then she scrutinized 
the progress of a quarrel over washing 

250 Vassar Studies 

dishes. She said that she had heard 
that college life tended to produce dislike 
for domesticity, but And then she 
watched us break a cup in the struggle to 
wipe it with four or five hands belonging 
to different persons. 

Dislike for domesticity ! Wherefore, 
then, the odor of countless chafing-dish 
suppers floating through transoms on 
Sunday evenings ? And wherefore the 
daily clattering of tea-cups under the 
faucet in the hall ? (Domesticity is de- 
rived conjecturally from domus house, 
plus edo eat, and equals the place where 
we eat. Hence, a talent for cookery im- 
plies the possession of domestic tastes. 
Is that clear, young ladies ? ) 

Hark ! the silvery-toned gong ! I must 
hurry to secure a back seat in the recita- 
tion-room. It is so fortunate that to-day 
I am afflicted with a cough which invari- 
ably seizes me when the professor is 
looking around for a new victim to ask 
to translate. 

Be sure not to forget the expostula- 
tions. Tell her that questions make me 

Danger! 251 

nervous. When my new gown came for 
Phil, I tried it on, and ventured down 
into the parlors to get a full-length view 
in the pier-glass. Absorbed in promenad- 
ing up and down while practising different 
varieties of smiles, I became abruptly 
aware of an opening door and a face 
waxing slowly into horror-stricken round- 
ness before vanishing from sight. Be- 
hold me flying up side stairways, crouching 
behind " Engaged" signs, peering around 
corners, and reconnoitring corridors, in 
nerve-shrinking dread of " Do you think 
that mirrors foster vanity ? " 

Occasionally, my dear young friend, 
very occasionally. It all depends. 

P. S. 

Tell her that it is pedantic to ask ques- 
tions, and worse to answer them, except 
in the classroom, and even there it is 
sometimes wiser to pass them by in 
silence. M. 

P. S. iterum. 

Tell her that the greatest danger of 
college life is pedanticism. M. 

252 Vassar Studies 


February i4th. 

A snapping winter night with the 
shadow of woods at the foot of the heaved- 
up whiteness of Sunrise Hill, and a moon 
in the sky. (It is the same old moon we 
had last year.) 

I have been meditating over life, while 
patronizing the steam-pipes. My medita- 
tions were considerably affected as to 
coloring by the fact that I was up until 
two last night, engaged in writing valen- 
tines. When your friend heard it, she 
did not express her opinion with the pleas- 
ant scholarliness of " Cui bono?" or even 
in a wholesome " Waste of time ! " She 
merely murmured, " I have read that one 
danger is lack of balance." 

During examination week, she must 
have been making a preliminary study of 
this particular " Danger." When she in- 
quired, " What is the difference between 
cramming and judiciously reviewing?" I 
told her, of course, that one was learning 
something entirely new, and the other 

Danger ! 253 

was reviving the forgotten. Looking at 
the pile of notes before me, she glanced 
at the clock, and then asked, " What is 
an injudicious review ? " 

An injudicious review, my dear, is the 
kind that arouses longing for vacation 
not an ordinary vacation such as the girls 
whirl through during the holidays (for, 
though a change of occupation may be a 
recreation, it is not always a rest), but a 
vacation "as is a vacation." The college 
year a mad dance through the week with 
a double-shuffle on Saturday and a wild 
clutch at old Time's forelock. On Sun- 
day catch your breath to begin again. 

It is an enjoyable dance. 

It is a thoroughly enjoyable dance. 
Thereby, in your friend's judgment, hangs 
" The Great Danger ! " After the skating 
carnival ropes of Chinese lanterns sway- 
ing, three big bonfires, music, glint of fly- 
ing steel in the darkness, girls darting and 
gliding, or hovering near the blaze with 
frosty curls around glowing faces I lin- 
gered for last looks at dying brands (you 
see, this is my senior year). The Inquir- 

254 Vassar Studies 

ing Mind approached, on information 
bent. (She did not even notice how the 
flames flared and flickered, throwing 
dancing shadows among the branches of 
the trees.) She began, " Don't you think 
that life at this college is altogether shel- 
tered and petted for the girls ? " 

" Yes," I assented, " it is like doing us 
up in cotton." 

" Don't you think," she continued ea- 
gerly, " that the life here may spoil us for 
struggling with the world ? " (She evi- 
dently spells world with very black letters.) 

" It resembles an orphan asylum in that 
respect," I agreed. 

She was not heeding me. " I have 
heard that this is ' The Great Danger.' " 

" Rather comprehensive," I ventured, 
but she did not take the trouble even to 

" Yes," she repeated to herself, " that 
is ' The Great Danger.' ' 

I think so myself occasionally espe- 
cially when I have been up until two the 
night before. At other times I reflect 
that not all children are taught to swim by 

Danger ! 255 

being thrown into the water. (Wise that 
I am!) 

The world ! (said to be cold). Febru- 
ary, March, April, May, June! Com- 
mencement. Danger ! Beware of college 
life ! Why ? Oh, because because be- 
cause it comes to an end so soon. 
My motto : " Grin " and so forth. 
Yours and so forth, 

P. S. 

I am not blue ; I am sleepy. 


May i st. 

(The extra dear means that it has been 
a beautiful day.) Up early watching the 
mountains brighten into misty blue where 
eastern slopes caught the level rays, and 
deepen westward into purple shadows. 
(Ah, object to scenery in letters, do you ? 
Very well.) Sky fair as the morning- 
fluffy little clouds. Air sweet cool- 
feet not touching earth. Lake glisten- 

256 Vassar Studies 

ing through trees thrushes "full- 
throated" whistle. Orioles flashing 
topmost twig of evergreens. Robins 
lawn sparkle of dew and but don't 
mention it angle-worms. The grass in 
the Circle blue with violets. Flowers 
everywhere. I late to breakfast. 

Next. Library open window scent 
of new-mown grass. Now and then a 
quiet rustle or the turning of a page. 
Poem study true meaning. I (my 
dear, my dear !) hedonism summum 

Which is being interpreted ah non- 

By the way, explanation of early rising 
to hang May baskets. Thereby hangs 
the discovery of another " Danger." Yes- 
terday a crowd of us set out for the woods 
to gather wild flowers. On our way 
through the orchard, we found your young 
friend meditating of course as she wan- 
dered under the white glory (yes 'm, senti- 
mental diction) of the blossoming trees, 
while snowy petals drifted down upon the 
deep soft grass. Joining us, her pensive- 

Danger! 257 

ness darkened. " Don't you think that 
college girls laugh too easily ? " 

" How about the danger of laughing 
too little ? " I suggested. 

" I have heard," she murmured reflect- 
ively, " some statements concerning higher 
education and the unstable equilibrium of 
the nervous system." 

" The connection," I commented, " is 
as inevitable as that of the Siamese 

After a quarter of a mile paced in 
silence, the Inquiring Mind again obtained 
power of speech. " Sometimes people 
are not agreeable." 

"Once in a while," I assented; "and 
when it is somebody else, the reason is 
scriptural ' possessed of an evil spirit,'- 
and when it is a college girl, the reason 
is " 

"What?" eagerly. 

" Indigestion." 

She spoke one word despairingly 
" Materialism." 

In the woods, I succeeded in eluding 
the Scientific Intellect long enough to 

258 Vassar Studies 

compose the first line of a poem. I was 
sitting beside a miniature streamlet which 
flowed clear brown, rippling around stones 
and tinkling over cascades into dark and 
silent pools about the size of my handker- 
chief. Far away in a distance of straight 
gray tree trunks, through a shimmer of 
tiny green leaves, I caught glimpses of 
the girls roaming here and there. The 
poem began in a strikingly thoughtful 
way, " Flowers, flowers, everywhere," and 
I was trying to work in the names of 
different species (because poetry in its 
essence is concrete and specific, aha ! ). It 
was necessary absolutely so to describe 
the rosy glow of spring-beauties along the 
brook, the golden carpets of dogtooth 
violets, the anemones nodding daintily 
beside rough stumps, the cheery little 
hepaticas. This glorious effort was nipped 
in the bud by the appearance of your 
respected friend. 

After examining my flowers (laid away 
let me inform you in the cool dark- 
ness of a tin box, not picturesquely wither- 
ing in a basket), she opened her mouth. 

Danger ! 259 

(Ah, me ! I sighed, and leaned against a 
mossy green rock.) She said, "What are 
you going to do with so many ? " 

I told her that I intended to hang May 
baskets get up early the next morning 
to leave the flowers at the girls' doors 
(not all the girls) before any one was 

" Will you get up very early ?" 


" How early?" (There is nothing, my 
dear, so desirable in social conversation as 
mathematical accuracy.) 

" Fifteen minutes after six." 

She looked at me. " I wish that I had 
my note-book here." 

" Why ? " (Even this worm will turn.) 

She hesitated a moment. " I have 
heard that one danger of life in a woman's 
college is the resulting attitude of abnor- 
mal devotion to her own sex." 

Something giggled ; it must have been 
the brook. 

Laura, think of that note-book ! Let 
me see what was the first " Danger " ? 
Oh, yes, flippancy. Behold ! 

260 Vassar Studies 


I. Item : Reason for entering college. 

Inference : Flippancy. 
II. Item : Hallowe'en jokes and romps. 

Inference : Frivolity. 
III. Item : Mimic political campaign. 

Inference : Foolishness. 
IV. Item : Social insincerities. 

Inference : Lack of moral courage. 
V. Item : Teas, luncheons, and suppers. 

Inference : Self-indulgence. 
VI. Item : Consultation with mirror. 

Inference : Vanity. 
VII. Item : Valentine-writing. 

Inference : Lack of balance. 
VIII. Item : Injudicious reviews. 

Inference : Lack of foresight. 
IX. Item : Pleasantness of life. 

Inference : Unfitness to struggle with world. 
X. Item : Laughter. 

Inference : Emotional excitability. 
XI. Item : Explanation of moods. 

Inference : Materialism. 
XII. Item : Hanging of May baskets. 

Inference : Abnormal devotion to woman. 

Why oh, why did I ever come to 
college ? 

Why oh, why ? 


Danger! 261 


May 23d. 

That note-book ! The list of " Dan- 
gers " ! The Inquiring Mind ! And me ! 

There are " Dangers," you know, but 
(Is n't but an obliging little word ? It is 
almost as convenient as quotation marks 
when you feel the need of hiding behind 
somebody's else personality.) 

But listen ! 

Between dinner and chapel, we were 
strolling over the lawn in the soft sunset 
time, while the robins were twittering 
sleepily in the evergreens, and all the 
sweetness of the blossoming day was 
gathering cool and still around us. In 
dainty light gowns, girls flitted hither and 
thither sauntering over the walks, frolick- 
ing through merry games, making bright 
bits of color under sombre trees, or, 
perched on window-ledges, chattering 
gayly as they watched the others. 

Your young friend had been silent for 
so long that I suspected that an idea was 
in process of formation. I hastened to 

262 Vassar Studies 

forestall interrogation. " Did you ever 
think of the advantages of college life ? " . 

Her stern glance slowly sought me. " I 
came to college," she answered simply, 
" did you ever wonder why ? " 

"No," gloomily; "since I met you, I 
have been using up all my spare time in 
wondering why I came myself." 

" There are dangers," she reassured me 

" You have been studying them ? " with 
alacrity catching at the opening for a hint. 

" I heard of them before I came." 

Invitingly, " Have n't you been taking 
notes on the subject all the year ? " 

" Notes ? " widening both eyes upon me 
with the usual question mark in the depths 
of each. 

" Last September you showed me a 
note-book with a page headed ' Dangers 
of College Life,' " I corrected her, mean- 
while shocked to observe in this hitherto 
candid nature a germinating talent for 

Her face flashed comprehension. " So 
I did." 

Danger ! 263 

" Perhaps I may be able to help you 
with suggestions." 

" Suggestions for my notes ? Oh, I 
wish that you would ! " beginning to fumble 
in her pocket ; " you could assist me better 
than any one else." 

" Possibly I serve as illustrative of each 
item ? " 

" Why, how did you know ?" in radiant 

"An undoubted case of mind-reading" 
the tone was merely coated with sweetness; 
" intuition, you know, a sort of sublimated 
instinct, so inferior to keenness that sub- 
limation of masculine reason." 

She looked troubled. " That may be a 
' Danger ' rationalism, loss of femininity, 
and so forth." 

"It is a pity that I do not wear a danger 
signal on my hatband, for instance." 

" There are dangers," she persisted, as 
she fished up from the depths of some- 
where a small brown note-book. " You 
may skip the scribbled part," graciously, 
" and please tell me if I am right in my 
interpretation of facts. Some of the facts 

264 Vassar Studies 

bothered me as much as if they were 

The book fluttered open in an accus- 
tomed way. 


" Dangers of College Life. Dangers of College 
Life. Dangers. Dangers. Lack of seriousness in 
dealing with weighty problems. Lack of serious- 
ness. Full of fun. Full of fun, fun, fun. Fun. 
Fun of College Life. Fun. 

" I am tired of taking notes on dangers, 
and besides everybody knows all about 
them. Once upon a time people talked 
about the dangers of bicycle-riding. 

" Later. An idea for my note-book. 
An Idea ! I have just read that no one 
can spend four years at Vassar without 
bearing the Vassar mark. Think of all 
the unsuspicious girls who come to this 
college without knowing anything about 
that mark ! 

" Maybe the Vassar mark is dangerous. 
If it is, I shall not come back to college 
after this year. 

Danger ! 265 



I. Concealment of earnest- | 

ness under light words ; ! Reserve 

e. g., " I came to college f of manner. 

for fun." 

II. Hallowe'en celebration Adaptability. 

III. Imitation politics . I Sense of 

) humor. 

IV. The unrecognized caller [ 

) feelings. 

V. Cooking in rooms . Versatility. 

VI. Care for personal appear- ) 

I Self-respect. 

VII. Sitting up late to write ) T 

.... , -if Unselfishness. 
valentines for the girls. ) 

VIII. Zeal for study, especially \ 

during examination > Enthusiasm. 
week ) 

IX. Responsiveness to my \ 

thoughts at the skating ( Sympathy. 
carnival . . ) 

X. Readiness to laugh . Cheerfulness. 

I. Practical allowance for } T 

Lack of 
physical influences, e. 

pysica inuences, e. ?.. r . ,. 

. * ' \ sentimentality 
blues and dyspepsia. J 


XII. Distribution of May baskets. I Executlve 


266 Vassar Studies 

" Summary : I have decided to come 
back to college next year." 

I looked up from the note-book with my 
very best smile. " You have a talent for 

" Yes," with a sigh of self-approval, 
" and I am so glad that you enjoyed 
the notes. But there really are dan- 

" It may be that they belong to the 
variety of ' dangers ' which are not exactly 
dangerous," consolingly. 

" As, for instance - ? " 

" As, for instance, the danger that we 
may be late to chapel." 

The gong had struck, and the girls 
were slowly drifting over the grass toward 
the entrance. A wistfulness crept into 
her face as she watched them. " I do not 
know why they all came to college, but " 
and her eyes seemed to look afar off 
" I think I see why they stay." 

"In spite of the 'dangers'?" I 
muttered in vengeful thought. 

"Oh, the 'dangers.'" 

Danger ! 267 

A long silence. Then, " Bother the 
' dangers ' ! " 
(I fainted.) 

There are " dangers," but 

Even so, 

Bother the "dangers"! 

P. S. 

I mean " Requiescant in pace," and 
don't bother them. 



AT the crest of the hill the wind met 
them with a gust that made the tall girl 
clutch her cap as she pushed on unwink- 
ing and with head erect to seat herself on 
the highest rock of the stone wall ridged 
across the summit. The little one, sent 
flying after a scarlet tam-o'-shanter, came 
struggling up, with color tingled into 
cheeks and eyes shining, to lean breath- 
less against the solitary tree which crowned 
the height. The third, whose frail slen- 
derness caused it to appear natural that 
she should sway before the riotous breeze, 
slipping along by the wall, sank down in a 
sunny nook sheltered from the gale. As 
she sat there with her hands lying idly in 
her lap, the grave lines of her face seemed 

One of the Girls 269 

to relax, and her lips parted in an uncon- 
scious smile, while her gaze wandered 
happily over clumps of sere woods, mead- 
ows, and brown fields, to a cluster of red 
buildings nestling among evergreens. 

With curly head tilted on one side, the 
girl under the tree was contemplating her 
reflectively. " Sara, I believe that you 
really love the old college, and it is only a 
place. I care most for persons." 

For a minute no word came from the 
cosy niche ; then softly, as if thinking 
aloud, " I do love it, Marjorie." 

" Well," meditatively, " I am fond of it 
myself, but then I do not exactly cling to 
the institution when vacation arrives, and 
I do allow my friends to allude occasion- 
ally to Commencement Day, seeing that 
it is two years distant." 

Glancing at the blithe face, Sara's 
thoughts strayed back to her sensitive 
childhood saddened by the anxieties of 
those about her, to her girlish days early 
shadowed by responsibility and care, and 
then to the light-hearted pleasantness of 
her life at college. Her independent na- 

270 Vassar Studies 

ture, enabling her to live within herself 
and to create her own interests, inspired 
her with a craving for freedom from bonds, 
however dear. More intense than in the 
generality of others was her shrinking from 
disturbing emotions. At college she was 
released from the thousand obligations 
which spring from the close relations of 
family intercourse. In the aloofness of 
existence here among books and happy 
girls, she could thrust out of her mind the 
knowledge of trouble, bitterness, and 
grief. Wistfully her eyes lingered over 
the far-away hills, before returning restful 
to the protecting evergreens. " It is dif- 
ferent from the world," she said. 

The girl who was perched unflinchingly 
upon the windy top of the stone wall here 
turned sternly toward her companions. 
" Something is wrong with the world." 

Marjorie gave a little jump, and stared 
at the accusing figure ; then she broke 
into a merry laugh. " I knew that you 
were cold up there, Gertrude." 

Sara was half smiling. " What are you 
going to do about it ? " 



One of the Girls 271 

"I don't know yet "-Gertrude was 
frowning in perplexity ; " I have been 
thinking about it for a long while ever 
since I heard about Armenia. It is not 
right to do nothing. Think of all the 
misery ! " 

"Don't think of it. It does no good, 
and it makes you unhappy yourself " 
Sara was speaking slowly " and your 
duty is to increase the sum of human 
happiness by one." 

" A corrupter of youth Marius the 
Epicurean," murmured Marjorie. 

" Over there," continued Gertrude, un- 
heeding, as she pointed vaguely toward 
the faint blue outlines of the Kaatskills, 
"lies the Asylum for the Insane, with all 
those hopeless faces in the long gloomy 

" It smells of whitewash," commented 

Sara was moving uneasily. " What is 
the use of talking of such things ? " 

" Down the river," went on the inexora- 
ble voice, " we can almost see the walls of 
Sing Sing. Lives utterly ruined ! And 

272 Vassar Studies 

over there in town, just a mile away from 
us, lonely wrinkled old men and women sit 
by the windows of the Almshouse 

" Please don't," shivered Sara, gazing 
resolutely in the opposite direction. 

" Down in the streets of the city are 
little children hungry and cold 

" I Ve noticed them," broke in Marjorie ; 
" they never wear rubbers, and they play 
around in the gutters with their shoes soak- 
ing wet. Every time we go to town, Sara 
gives them pennies, though I keep telling 
her about offering a premium to poverty, 
and the evil of encouraging vagrancy." 

" And there," the severe tones softened, 
" there is our beautiful college, away from 
the dust and hurry and struggle and sorrow 
and need of the world, with no worries or 

" I worry over examinations," put in 
Marjorie, looking melancholy. 

The accusing words rang out : " What 
right have we to spend four years in caring 
solely for ourselves? How dare we be 
happy while there is misery all around 

One of the Girls 273 

Upon the silence fell a meek suggestion 
from Marjorie : " I thought that we were 
preparing ourselves to help the world ! " 

" Peculiar training for an unselfish life ! " 

Sara, who had been staring at the horizon 
line with the effect of not listening, slowly 
rose, shrugging her shoulders as if en- 
deavoring to throw off a weight. "If you 
feel that way," she remarked dryly, " why 
do you stay here two years longer ? " 

Marjorie to the rescue : " Why, of 
course, her family want her to graduate." 

Already a few paces down the hillside, 
Sara glanced back. " Without doubt, she 
should sacrifice herself to her family." 

The others lingered, Gertrude turning 
to Marjorie for sympathy. "You under- 
stand, don't you?" 

Marjorie struggled to rise to the esti- 
mate. " I understand a little. Life puz- 
zles me sometimes. I think that perhaps 
we ought to try to make the best of things," 
looking shyly away as if embarrassed at 
the didactic tone of her own suggestion. 

As they were picking their steps down 
the rock-strewn lane, Gertrude, regarding 


274 Vassar Studies 

the figure a short distance ahead, mur- 
mured meditatively, " Don't you think 
that our life at college has a tendency to 
make the girls selfish ? " 

" Well," responded Marjorie, reflecting, 
" we do have fun." 


Sara was standing at the window, idly 
twisting the curtain-cord about her fingers, 
as she watched an evening mist creep over 
the soaked lawn. 

" Do you know," began Marjorie, pa- 
tiently striving before the mirror to pin 
her hair at exactly the proper angle to 
make her features appear regular, " I sus- 
pect that Gertrude has an idea ? " 

" She is always having ideas ; she is 
young yet." 

Marjorie was anxiously surveying the 
outline of her head in profile. " I wish 
that my nose were a trifle more accommo- 
dating," she sighed ; adding at conversa- 
tional pitch, "It is an idea about helping 
the world, and I am certain that she is 
working it out." 

One of the Girls 275 

" I hope that it is a pleasant idea," 

" Pleasant for some people. For in- 
stance, she has given up eating any des- 
sert except rice-pudding, because she 
calculates that if she has less the servants 
will have more." 

" Logical." 

" Lately she never sends out for rare 
beef or more butter, because she thinks 
that the maids are tired from ironing all 

" I never commit either crime." 

" Because you like beef well done, and 
you do not care for butter. I notice a 
great many things without appearing to 
do so," replied Marjorie, with a little air 
of conscious merit which provoked Sara to 
steal a sidelong glance and smile to herself. 

"She did not go to the last Hall Play 
at all, because, after waiting until every- 
body else was seated, she found that there 
was no room left. And she gave her 
ticket for Rip Van Winkle to a freshman 
who could not afford it, and she wanted 
to go awfully 

276 Vassar Studies 

" Who wanted awfully ? " 

" Both of them. And now she always 
lets the other girls have the reference 
books first, no matter how long she has 
waited. And she does everything any- 
body wants her to do ; I have requested a 
number of favors on purpose to find out." 

" She is rather foolish " Sara was lying 
back in a steamer-chair with her hands 
clasped behind her head " and she fancies 
that she is helping the old world roll along 
more easily. Did you read that short 
magazine story concerning the phases of 
moral development out of naturalness 
while at college or anywhere, for that 
matter ? Selfishness, self-abnegation, self- 
realization. She has reached the suicidal 
second stage reaction from the first. 
She ought to be taught that her first duty, 
according to the principles of ethics, is to 

In the act of lighting the gas, Marjorie 
stood motionless until the match burned 
her fingers. Then in an ominously quiet 
voice, " When do you think that you will 
arrive at that stage ? " 

One of the Girls 277 

Sara laughed under her breath. " A 
sad, sad case. Give it up." She turned 
her face toward the darkening sky. " Apro- 
pos of nothing in particular, there is your 
Wit and Wisdom on the ledge. I have 
been learning quotations, simply, of course, 
to fill up gaps in conversation." The 
voice changed to dreamy tones. " ' Every 
bond of your life is a debt, my daughter '- 
a debt, my daughter. Marjorie, Marjorie ! " 
with sudden energy, " did you ever long 
to be free from every relation every 
obligation free, free, free ? " 

" Well, I don't know," responded her 
companion judicially ; " it might be 

" Sensible child ! " 

" Well," but hereupon the warning 
whir-r-r of a far-away gong preluded the 
clamor announcing dinner, and Marjorie 
broke off to hurry Sara out of her indolent 

As the two girls were walking down the 
long corridor toward the dining-room, 
they were joined by Gertrude, glowing 
from an afternoon in the open air. Com- 

Vassar Studies 

ing as she did from the chill and darkness 
into the light and warmth and cheer which 
filled the hospitable building, she felt a 
quick throb of impulsive contentment. 
Throwing an arm around each of her 
friends, she burst out : " Is n't this the 
loveliest place ! See how the gas-jets 
shine out like great stars all down the 
hall, and away off there at the end is 
that radiant golden globe between the 

" It is the library lamp in the senior 
parlor," volunteered Marjorie. " I know 
who lent it." 

" And the girls stream out from their 
rooms in their pretty gowns," continued 

" And the elevator rattles up and down," 
added Marjorie. 

" And everything is warm and fresh and 
sweet, and the girls all look happy." 

" Because it is ice-cream night, and 
um-m-m I almost smell the frosting on 
the angel-cake." 

" And everything is perfectly lovely," 
with an enjoying sigh. 

One of the Girls 279 

Sara had halted to close a window 
against the damp night air. " It is horrid 
outside," she said. 


One evening a month or so later, during 
the singing of the hymn in chapel, Mar- 
jorie leaned forward with mischievous face 
to whisper to Sara : " May I secure the 
privilege of writing your biography ? " 

Sara, frowning, bent her eyes on her 

" You might as well acknowledge it," 
persisted Marjorie ; " when I passed you, 
I heard what the professor said. He told 
you that you possessed remarkable ability, 
great opportunities, and so forth. Very 
likely he pointed out the path of duty in 
the direction of original research, and I 
am sure that he offered or, at least, sug- 
gested strongly the graduate fellowship 
in his department for year after next. 
Did n't he ? " 

The closely shut lips refused to move. 

"Did he? Did n't he? Did he ? Didn't 
he ? If you won't nod yes or no, I shall 

280 Vassar Studies 

tell all the girls what I heard. Did n't 

The tormentor caught a sharp " Mar- 
jorie ! " flung over the shoulder which she 
was nudging. 

" Tell me, tell me ! I can keep a secret. 
And besides, I am so interested. I have 
always said that you were the brightest 
girl in college. Tell me ! People are 
beginning to look at us. Please, please 
tell me. I am so anxious about your 
career. Please Aha ! I knew it. I 
shall begin to take notes for the biog- 
raphy to-morrow." 

That same evening, after a concert at 
which Marjorie had furnished variations 
consisting of ecstatic congratulations and 
commendations of her own good taste in 
choosing so brilliant a friend, the two 
girls loitered in a mood of reasonless 
laughter through the corridors. When 
they pushed open the door of Sara's room, 
Marjorie gave a shriek of envy at sight of 
a white envelope lying on the table under 
the faint glow of a crimson-shaded drop- 
light. " A letter piled on top of all your 

One of the Girls 281 

other blessings ! " she wailed, while Sara, 
picking it up, idly turned it about by the 

" It is from home," she said simply. 

" Won't they be proud of you ! " ex- 
claimed the younger girl, generous in 
appreciation. " If you come back as a 
graduate fellow one year, without doubt 
you will win two additional years some- 
where, and that means a Ph.D., and then 

Sara was smiling at her. " I wish," 
she said, " that you would sing a verse of 
' Alma Mater ' to distract my mind. My 
brain keeps chanting over and over, 
' Every bond of your life is a debt, my 
daughter,' a debt, my daughter ; ' the 
right lies in the payment of that debt ; it 
can lie nowhere else.' " 

" How funny ! " commented Marjorie. 

When left alone, Sara walked over to 
the window to draw the shade, and stood 
motionless a few minutes looking out into 
the moonlight. Here and there upon the 
untrodden snow a leafless tree cast an inter- 
lacing tracery of clear-cut shadow. U nder 

282 Vassar Studies 

each evergreen the mass of gloom heavy 
at the centre brightened into a trans- 
parency of graceful embroidery at the 
border. The girl lifted her eyes to the 
sky where the moon shone without a 
cloud. Her gaze hovered over the great 
building with its outspread wings over 
the turrets, over the dusky eaves and 
angles of the roof glistening transfigured 
in the soft light. To her the whole place 
was glorified by the enchantment of the 
happiest days she had ever known. 

As she gazed, her fingers relaxed, and 
the letter fluttered to the floor. For an- 
other minute her eyes lingered upon the sky 
and passed lovingly over the hills and tree- 
shadows on the lawn. Then, drawing the 
curtain quickly, she bent to pick up the en- 
velope and sank down by the lamp to read. 

" DEAR Sis," (it ran) : 

" Mother is worried about Father. He 
is as glum as anything, and snaps us up 
short, I tell you, when we ask for money. 
I heard him sort of groan out once that 
you were the only one of the children 

One of the Girls 283 

upon whom he could depend. You see, 
Jack is getting pretty wild stays out late 
and bothers us. He says that you know 
enough to stay away when you once get 
out of this ' Quaker meeting.' Mother 
told him that when you come home it will 
be livelier here evenings. Little Annie 
says, ' Tell my Sara I want her every day.' 
The little Mother makes believe that she 
does not miss you, but she keeps your let- 
ters in her work-basket, and reads them so 
often that I am going to get them framed. 
I carried her up-stairs yesterday. She is 
as light as anything. That white-whis- 
kered old medicine man has been sneak- 
ing around lately. Mother said not to 
mention it to you, because you might 
worry and interrupt your work, and you 
will be through in one year after this any- 
way. And then she breathed way down 
deep, and looked tired. I decided to tell 
you, because it is my opinion that you 
ought to know it ; but Jack says, ' Ho ! 
she 's having too good a time, and it 's my 
turn anyhow.' He does not think of any- 
body but himself. Everything is all 

284 Vassar Studies 

wrong, and I say, Sis, come home, and let 
your old career go to smash. 

" HARRY." 


" Do you think that higher education is 
a fad ? " asked Marjorie from her perch 
on Sara's window-seat " Gertrude says 
that she thinks so." 

Silently Sara kept on arranging her his- 
tory notes at the desk. 

Marjorie continued : " I told her that I 
had never considered it in that light." 

" A rash statement." 

" Yes," with a sigh ; " she spent the rest 
of the hour in presenting the subject from 
the proper point of view. I wonder if she 
is right I wonder." 

'' A safe mental operation." 

Marjorie turned her speculative atten- 
tion from the window to the studious fig- 
ure across the small room. " I wonder," 
she deliberated, " if that young woman 
needs some exercise." 

No answer. 

" She behaves with astounding flight!- 

One of the Girls 285 

ness lately that is, astounding for a girl of 
'remarkable ability.' 'Hoot, mon!' it is 
time to laugh ; that was a witty allusion." 

Without lifting her eyes, Sara slipped 
elastics around the packages of notes, and 
began to pile them snugly in a pasteboard 
box. Marjorie watched her with a sober- 
ing expression. " Reaction in the valleys 
after mountain-climbing." Sliding from 
her seat, she snatched up a coat and hat, 
and was at her friend's side. " Come, 
stand up ! " with a note of caressing com- 
mand in her voice ; " I want you to go out 
upon some hill to see the sunset. Life 
looks different from a hilltop." 

Sara was fitting the last parcel of notes 
into a corner of the box. Her head bent 
lower and lower until with a quick move- 
ment she pushed aside the litter of papers 
and hid her face in her hands. 

An energetic knock at the door was fol- 
lowed by the abrupt entrance of Gertrude. 
Stopping short, she stared with a dim ap- 
prehension that something was embarrass- 
ing. Sara was bending to pick up papers 
scattered on the floor, and Marjorie was 

286 Vassar Studies 

leaning down to set erect the overturned 
scrap-basket. Glancing helplessly from 
one to the other, the newcomer began un- 
consciously to back toward the door. 
Marjorie straightened up. " Well," very 
sweetly, " have you made any new dis- 
coveries in the investigation of fads ? " 

Half out of the room, Gertrude paused 
with her hand on the knob. "It has oc- 
curred to me that the Crusades were a 
fad," she announced meekly before fading 
from sight. 

Sara had repacked her notes, and was 
tying the cover on the box. Marjorie 
lingered. "Won't you come?" she 
pleaded. " I want you to give me argu- 
ments why higher education is not a fad. 
You care more for study than for anything 
else, because you have the temperament 
of a scholar as well as the ability. You 
did not choose to come to college just be- 
cause it is getting to be the fashion. 
Higher education a fad ! There is my 
aunt she had to leave Vassar in her 
junior year, and she says that it has been 
the regret of her life," 

One of the Girls 287 

Sara had risen and stood with her face 
toward the window. Marjorie waited. 
" You ought to go out for fresh air," she 
coaxed gently ; " you are nervous. Your 
hands are doubled up tight. Please 

" Will you go ? " 

Marjorie shrank away as if struck. 

In a moment Sara heard the door close 

Sara stood on the steps at the end of 
the walk leading down to the lake. To and 
fro over the dark ice glided the skaters. 
Beyond rose a background of snowy shores 
drawing a tracery of bare trees against the 
glowing sky. A troop of girls swinging 
their skates came down the path. As they 
passed, one called to her, " Do you count 
what you are doing exercise ? " and another 
tossed back gayly, " A chilly monument 
for smiling at grief, Sara ! " She watched 
them sit down upon the improvised 
benches to fasten their skates before start- 
ing out with long undulating strokes to 

288 Vassar Studies 

join the light-hearted frolicking upon the 

The rose color in the west had faded to 
pale grays and greens before the girl, 
ceasing to be motionless, turned her face 
toward the college. Her eyes rested al- 
most fiercely upon the solid pile stretch- 
ing out its dingy red length in the twilight. 
Lights here and there were beginning to 
glow behind drawn curtains. As she came 
nearer, her feet dragged more and more 
slowly, until they halted, leaving her star- 
ing up at the library windows ablaze with 
generous illumination. Hungrily her gaze 
wandered over every detail, from the busts 
high up on the shelves to the rows and rows 
of books. She could just catch a glimpse 
of the great fireplace near the spiral stair- 
case in one corner, and a vase of flowers on 
the librarian's desk in another. A student 
or two were bending above each glistening 
table. Over it all hovered the atmosphere 
of serenely pleasant days, melting one 
into the other in scholarly enjoyment. 

A low voice breaking in upon Sara's 
aloofness told that Marjorie was hesitating 

One of the Girls 289 

beside her. " Are you wishing that you 
had not finished the work on your special 
topic so soon ?" 

After an instant's pause, " It is an ugly 
old building," commented Sara in reply. 

In amazement, " Why, I thought that 
you cared for it ! " 

Glancing at her, Sara began to walk on 
with her eyes on her muff. 

A few steps side by side in silence, and 
then, anxious to dispel gloom, the younger 
girl spoke : " The students are discussing 
possible class presidents for next year, 
Sara. Ever so many say that you would 
be the best choice for us. But more think 
that you are better fitted to be president 
of the Students' Association, because the 
senior president ought to be more social. 
I consider the other more of an honor, 
don't you ? Fancy president of Stu- 
dents', and then graduate fellow, and then 
oh, I don't know what all almost any- 
thing excellent. Won't our class be proud 
of you ! And your family ! A daughter 
with a Career a Future before her ! " 

Sara answered nothing until they had 

Vassar Studies 

reached the main entrance, and Mar- 
jorie was bracing 1 her slender little frame 
to push open the heavy door. Sara 
turned to look once more towards the 
west where the sun had set. The sky 
was darkening into gray, behind the bleak 
outlines of the leafless trees. A chill wind 
had sprung up. Sara shivered. Then, 
drawing a long breath, she spoke quietly : 
" I have decided not to come back to 
college next year, Marjorie. I am needed 
at home." 



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1. Love and Shawl-straps. By ANNETTE LUCILLE NOBLE. 

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19. Eyes Like the Sea. By MAURUS J6xAi. 

20. An Uncrowned King. By S. C. GRIER. 

21. The Professor's Dilemma. By A. L,. NOBLE. 

22. The Ways of Life. By MRS. OLIPHANT. 

23. The Man of the Family. By CHRISTIAN REID. 


25. The Fall of the Sparrow. By M. C. BALFOUR. 

26. Elementary Jane. By RICHARD PRYCE. 

27. The Man of Last Resort. By MELVILLE D. POST. 
38. Stephen Whapshare. By EMMA BROOKE. 

29. Lost Man's Lane. By ANNA KATHARINE GREEN. 

30. Wheat in the Ear. By ALIEN. 

31. As Having Nothing. By HESTER CALDWELL OAKLEY. 

32. The Chase of an Heiress. By CHRISTIAN REID. 


34. The Wheel of God. By GEORGE EGERTON. 

35. John Marmaduke. By S. H. CHURCH. 

36. Hannah Thurston. By BAYARD TAYLOR. 

37. Yale Yarns. By J. S. WOOD. 

38. Rosalba. By OLIVE P. RAYNER. 

39. Dr. Berkeley's Discovery. By RICHARD SLEE and CORNELIA A. 





Under the Auspices of Pike's Peak. Printed on deckel edged 

paper, with illustrations. 25th edition. 16, gilt top . . $1.25 

"A delightful little love story. Like her other books it is bright and 

breezy ; its humor is crisp and the general idea decidedly original. It is 

just the book to slip into the pocket for a journey, when one does not care 

for a novel or serious reading." Boston Times. 


Illustrated by George Sloane. Printed on deckel edged paper. I2th edi- 
tion. 1 6, gilt top $1.25 

"A Venetian June bespeaks its materials by its title and very full the 
little story is of the picturesqueness, the novelty, the beauty of life in the 
city of gondolas and gondoliers a strong and able work showing serious- 
ness of motive and strength of touch." Literary World. 
The above two vols. together in box $2.50 


Sketched in a New England Suburb, i.ith edition. With 13 

full-page illustrations by George Sloane. 8', gilt top . . $1.50 

" The lines the author cuts in her vignette are sharp and clear, but she 

has, too, not alone the knack of color, but what is rarer, the gift of 

humor." New York Times. 


From a Colorado Sketch-book. 3rd edition. 16. With a frontis- 
piece by Louis Loeb .... ... $1.00 

" We may say that the jaded reader fagged with the strenuous art of the 
passing hour, who chances to select this volume to cheer the hours, will 
throw up his hat for sheer joy at having hit upon a book in which morbid- 
ness and self-consciousness are conspicuous, by their absence." Ntw York 


A Bank Story. 12, gilt top $1.25 

" The story is graceful and delightful, full of vivacity, and is not without 
pathos. It is thoroughly interesting and well worthy of a place %vith Miss 
Fuller's other books." Congregationalist. 


Iftew jfiction. 

Children of the Mist. 

By EDEN PHILLPOTTS, author of " Down Dartmoor Way," 

" Lying Prophets," etc. 8 . . . . $i 50 

R. D. BLACKMORE, the author of " Lorna Doone," writes of the book : 

" Knowing nothing of the writer or his works I was simply astonished at the beauty 
and power of this novel. But true as it is to life and place, full of deep interest, rare 
humor, and vivid descriptions, there seemed to be risk of its passing unheeded in the 
crowd and rush and ruck of fiction." 

A. T. QuiLLER-CoucH, in the London Speaker, says of the work : 

" All the persons in the book are definite, the whole atmosphere of the story is crisp 
and clear a tale of uncommon thoughtfulness and power." 

Lone Pine. 

The Story of a Lost Mine. By R. B. TOWNSHEND. 12, $i 25 

" The work of a clever writer." The Atheneeum. 

" A rattling good story of the Southwest. The tale is well built, and ends with an 
exciting battle." Buffalo Express. 

" A charming love story mixed with the search for a lost silver mine, . . . full of 
exciting incidents and adventure." Cleveland Plain Dealer. 

" A stirring tale of life amonjj; the Indians of New Mexico. The hero is an all-conquer- 
ing American with plenty of grit and good sense, successful in love as well as in fighting 
Indians." Burlington Free Press. 

Miss Cayley's Adventures. 

By GRANT ALLEN, author of " Flowers and Their Pedigrees," 
etc. With 80 illustrations. 12. 

This is the obverse of the old story of the youth who starts forth with a sound heart 
and tuppence in his pocket to win his fortune. Mr. Allen's youth is a girl, a graduate of 
Girton, who is left penniless, and who is compelled to make her own way in life. Her 
varied experiences are told in Mr. Allen's old-time graceful manner, which won for him an 
international reputation. 

Vassar Studies. 

By JULIA A. SCHWARTZ, A.M. ('96). With u illustrations. 
12 $i 25 

Miss Schwartz's collection of studies has been planned to reproduce, by means of 
emphasizing in each paper a characteristic element or quality of student life, a faithful 
impression of the spirit and personality of modern Vassar. She has treated of character 
rather than incident ; yet her stories are not lacking in action nor in the picturesque back- 
ground of college pastime as well as that of college work. 

The Treasure of Mushroom Rock. 

A Story of Prospecting in the Rocky Mountains. By SID- 
FORD F. HAMP. Illustrated. 12. 


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